BBC staff strike disrupts live shows

MUMBAI: Thousands of journalists and technicians of British Broadcasting Corp had taken part in a 24-hour long work stoppage. The strike, staged to protest the broadcaster's plan to cut about 4,000 jobs, disrupted some live news shows.

The shows suffered included Today Show on Radio 4. Instead of the live news between 8:30 am and 9 am, BBC News 24 had a recorded program featuring interviews with two members of 1980s British rock band Duran Duran, known for such songs as Hungry Like the Wolf.'

The BBC2 television station was unaffected, as were the children's TV channels, said a BBC spokesman. Radio 2 and Radio 3 had live news broadcasts at the top of the hour, as usual, he said.

A BBC statement posted on its official website said, "Industrial action will not remove the need for further consultation or the need for the BBC to implement changes, which will enable us to put more money into improved programs and services."

It also added, that the BBC believes the best way forward is for unions to return to the table.

In addition to the 24-hour strike, a further 48-hour strike is planned from 31 May to 1 June. Employees are represented by three unions: the National Union of Journalists, Amicus and Bectu, the Broadcasting Entertainment Cinematograph and Theatre Union.

The BBC had announced plans to eliminate 3,780 jobs, partly through outsourcing and the sale of some units, as it prepares for renewal of its 10-year royal charter. BBC director general Mark Thompson sighted that the cutbacks are needed to save money for reinvestment in new types of digital media.

A statement posted on the union's website National Union of Journalists secretary general Jeremy Dear said, "We knew this strike would be big and get massive backing from staff, but the effect it is having on programming is even greater than expected.''

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