Guernsey Press

BBC Guernsey staff strike in protest over local radio cuts

BBC Guernsey output is ‘withering on the vine’ according to one of its former lead presenters.

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BBC Guernsey journalists and other staff nationally were on strike yesterday over cuts to local stations. Left to right, back, Tim Hunter, Nik de Garis, Charles Kershaw and Ian Child. In front, John Fernandez, left, and Euan Duncan. (Picture by Peter Frankland, 32188437)

Kevin Stewart said the station could be in terminal decline as local BBC staff went on strike yesterday in a protest against cuts to local radio across the British Isles.

Former deputy Mr Stewart, who also founded Island FM in the 1990s and became a leading voice in the radio industry nationally, claimed that BBC bosses see local radio as ‘a Friday afternoon job’.

‘Local radio can only be delivered locally. Why call it BBC Guernsey when half the output is from Jersey and half from Devon and Cornwall?

‘Audiences have dropped and dropped. They are half the station they were years ago,’ said Mr Stewart.

He believed standards at the station had fallen along with the general quality of journalism at the BBC.

‘They are just withering on the vine.

‘If they are not going to change, they should just close the door tomorrow.'

The BBC’s dispute with its staff centres on plans for its 39 local radio stations to share more programmes.

John Fernandez, the National Union of Journalists’ representative at BBC Guernsey, said that local staff went on strike in a bid to protect local services and show solidarity with colleagues across the UK who are at risk of redundancy.

‘We want as many Guernsey programmes as possible, and that’s what our audience wants,’ said Mr Fernandez.

He was protesting outside the BBC building on Bulwer Avenue with several colleagues. They said they had received great support from the Guernsey public.

‘We’ve had people beeping and people getting out of their cars to give us support,’ said Mr Fernandez, who was in the middle of the road leafleting stationary traffic during the rush hour.

‘It’s been great to see how much the people of Guernsey value their BBC services, and that’s why we think they should be protected.’

Deputy Heidi Soulsby joined the picket line to support those on strike.

‘Guernsey people are not getting Guernsey coverage which is distinctly about Guernsey,’ she said. ‘We are different, we pay our licence fee, and we expect something in return for that.’

Deputy Soulsby added that BBC top brass needed to understand the unique situation in the channel islands.

Mr Fernandez said other deputies had sent several messages of support, including Policy & Resources president Peter Ferbrache.

A BBC spokesperson said: 'This is absolutely not the case. The industrial action is not impacting our programming or news coverage in Guernsey and across the Channel Islands. The Channel Islands are not part of the changes taking place elsewhere in local radio. We cover issues and stories of importance to the Island in depth every single day – as we will as part of the wider plans for our services across England.'