Britain had a reality check today when a one-day strike by hundreds of BBC journalists gave the public a taste of what the corporation would look like if it went ahead with thousands of job cuts.
High-quality news output was pulled and flagship programmes such as Radio 4's Today, the World at One, PM and the World Tonight were cancelled as reporters downed notebooks and went out on picket lines.
National Union of Journalists general secretary Michelle Stanistreet, who led strikers out of the BBC's London centre at midnight, told the Morning Star from the picket line the walkout had attracted "really solid support right across Britain."
She said the widespread support and commitment of the journalists showed their depth of feeling about the BBC's plans and sent a "really significant" message to bosses.
There were scores of pickets outside some centres.
Journalists had already been working to rule from last Friday - urging the corporation to end compulsory redundancies and redeploy internally.
Its Delivering Quality First programme blueprints more than 2,000 job cuts across the corporation. It has already lost more than 7,000 jobs since 2004.
The NUJ said members across the BBC - in Scotland, BBC South, the Asian Network, Newsbeat, Five Live, the World Service and English Regions - were at risk of compulsory redundancy.
Ms Stanistreet said: "We are really pleased their action is having such a deep impact - it shows what the corporation without high-quality journalism would look like. We are delighted."
Many programmes were off air and elsewhere skeleton staffs of managers were trying to provide a threadbare service which the NUJ said had "provoked adverse comment" from listeners and viewers.
Ms Stanistreet said: "This action could easily have been be avoided. This not just about self-interest. BBC journalists care deeply about the quality of programming and the corporation's duty as a public-service broadcaster.
"That is why so many are already working way beyond their contracted hours and are 'acting up' without financial reward and why stress levels across the BBC are at an all-time high."
Radio Scotland and BBC Scotland's television output was seriously affected and NUJ members were taking turns to gather in groups up to 60 strong in support of pickets at the corporation's main Glasgow centre.
There was a strong picket line at BBC Cardiff and North East Labour MSP Richard Baker was on the picket line in Aberdeen.
Journalists at the BBC's most southerly outpost in Jersey said they had "very positive" support from the public with many people commenting on a sharp drop in the quality of output.
In Derby, managers were forced to stand in for striking journalists leading one picket to comment: "We wonder what they do most of the time if they can now find time to stand in for us."
Members of the BBC Paris bureau and news correspondents in Moscow, Brussels and Berlin were not working.
A BBC spokesman said: "Unfortunately industrial action does not alter the fact that the BBC has significant savings targets and as a consequence may have to make a number of compulsory redundancies."
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