BBC jazzes up the news with a cool customer

HE NORMALLY specialises in jazz music, is a visiting music correspondent for the Fred MacAulay show and works in the marketing department for the Scottish Symphony Orchestra.

But yesterday, Stephen Duffy, who lists his talents on the BBC website as "a natural ability to carry off a tweed suit" and "being nice", became the face of the BBC's Reporting Scotland.

The jazz buff turned news presenter stood in for better known faces such as Sally Magnusson and Jackie Bird who were understood to support the strike at the BBC.

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Around 150 BBC journalists in Glasgow took place in a nationwide 24-hour strike to protest at enforced job cuts which will see the organisation shed 100 staff.

The National Union of Journalists says BBC management is refusing to discuss redeployment and voluntary redundancy - leaving them no choice but to take industrial action.

Yesterday, the strike caused disruption across the schedules, with BBC Scotland, Radio Scotland, Radio Four and Five and BBC Alba all forced to cancel programmes.

• Review: You didn't miss a beat Stephen . . . but stick to the night job

Reporting Scotland and Newsnight Scotland and programmes on BBC Alba were cancelled or replaced with hastily compiled short bulletins - while the Today programme on Radio Four started an hour later than usual.

Meanwhile, on Radio Scotland the John Beattie programme was replaced by a pre-recorded show, as was Call Kaye, presented by Kaye Adams. Newsdrive, which normally airs between 4pm and 6pm, was also off the air.

Instead of half an hour of regional television news, BBC Scotland viewers saw three five-minute bulletins, written by members of BBC management and presented by Mr Duffy.

On Radio Scotland, three-minute bulletins every hour replaced the usual programmes and listeners tuned in to hear Welsh news editor Hugh Owens reading the morning news.

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On BBC Alba, news programmes An La, Aithris Na Maidne and Aithris An Sheasgair were also off the air.

The strike, which began at midnight on Sunday, meant the Today show on Radio Four was forced to start at 7am - an hour later than normal, although presenters John Humphries and Sarah Montague did not join the strike.

BBC Radio 5 Live was also affected, playing pre-recorded programmes to replace its regular live programmes.

There may be further disruption to programmes today because journalists will not have had time to work on stories for the next day.

David Eyre, father of chapel at BBC Scotland, said journalists felt let down by the refusal of management to negotiate. "We feel very angry," he said. "We don't understand why the management have decided to do this."

The union leader said the strike in Scotland had strong support and was backed by news presenters. It is understood Jackie Bird, Sally Magnusson, Gordon Brewer, Isobel Fraser and Kaye Adams all refused to cross the picket line, as they have done in previous disputes.

Mr Eyre said staff would return to work today, but would be working to rule. He said the possibility of more strikes could not be ruled out.

As the strike began, NUJ general secretary Michelle Stanistreet joined a picket line in London. She said journalists were angered at a "change in approach" by the BBC to job cuts, with more compulsory redundancies expected in the coming weeks.

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The two sides will meet for talks on 11 August, but the NUJ leader said: "There has been absolutely no meaningful movement from the BBC to address the cases of individual journalists losing their jobs now."

A BBC spokesman said: "We are disappointed that the NUJ is intending to strike and apologise to our audience for any disruption this may cause.

"Industrial action will not alter the fact that the BBC is faced with a number of potential compulsory redundancies, following significant cuts to the central government grants that support the World Service and BBC Monitoring.

"We will continue with our efforts to reduce the need for compulsory redundancies; however, the number of posts that we are having to close means that, unfortunately, it is likely to be impossible for us to avoid some compulsory redundancies."