ITV staff to hold 24-hour strike over desktop editing

By Caitlin Pike

Journalists in ITV regional newsrooms have voted to strike for 24 hours on Tuesday 18 April in protest against working conditions brought about by new editing technology.

Desktop editing software has been brought into ITV newsrooms gradually over the last five years. Journalists claim this has led to increases in editorial responsibility, pressure and less manageable working conditions — for which they have seen no financial reward or acknowledgment.

Sixty-one per cent of NUJ members at ITV turned out for the ballot, and 58 per cent voted in favour of industrial action. NUJ representatives met in London last week to decide how the action would be implemented. The planned action on 18 April could be followed by further strikes if the dispute is not resolved.

A regional ITV broadcast journalist told Press Gazette that a "campaign of intimidation" had been waged by managers in newsrooms in the run-up to the NUJ ballot.

They claimed journalists were called into managers’ offices and told "it would be in their interests not to vote for strike action" and that they were putting "the industry in jeopardy".

An ITV spokeswoman said: "Just 15 per cent of our entire regional editorial workforce of 600 staff has voted for strike action. We obviously take this action seriously, but are confident that our first-class regional service will be maintained and viewers will not be impacted in any way."

NUJ broadcasting organiser Paul McLaughlin said: "ITV should not underestimate the level of resentment over the working conditions since desktop editing technology was implemented. ITV does not listen to its journalists, it is a one-way conversation and we will see the result of that policy on 18 April."

An ITV insider told Press Gazette: "We are not traditionally a militant lot — journalists are dedicated, intelligent people who care immensely about their work. The vote for strike action has not been taken lightly and it shows how unhappy people are.

"We feel that we are not valued at all.

This technology saves ITV around £4m a year, and yet management will not even entertain the idea of a goodwill payment for the extra work that we have taken on. It is clear that news in the regions is not that important to ITV — in the grand scheme the company just sees it as something they have to provide as part of their public service remit."

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