BBC Tory conference strikes will be viewed as' partisan', says PR professor

The BBC's proposed strikes during the Conservative Party conference will give the Tories ammunition to hit back later, according to one senior PR academic.

BBC: proposed strikes
BBC: proposed strikes

The National Union of Journalists, the technicians’ union Bectu and Unite have joined forces to oppose changes to BBC pensions by planning a walkout timed to coincide with David Cameron’s speech at the Conservative Party conference.

But many of the corporation’s most respected presenters and reporters, including Jeremy Paxman and Nick Robinson, said the action would make viewers think the BBC was biased against the Conservative Party.

University of Westminster visiting professor of public relations Trevor Morris agreed with the senior journalists, stating: ‘It will be seen as partisan by people and it gives the Government some long-term ammunition.’

Morris added that the public would generally not sympathise with the idea of ‘privileged people working at the BBC going on strike’.

‘I would think senior people at the BBC will have their heads in their hands over this.’

The BBC is already thought to have an uncertain future as it faces cuts under the coalition Government.

Cornerstone Associates MD Lucian Hudson agreed that the unions have 'got it wrong', adding: 'The political parties being able to do their job is in effect part of our constitution. It comes quite close to not covering Parliament. Whatever the issues they have with management, it's not the right event to target.'

Hudson worked at the BBC for 12 years, including as a head of programming for international channels.

The first 48-hour walkout is planned to start next Tuesday to coincide with David Cameron’s keynote speech on Wednesday. A second two-day walkout is intended to disrupt the coverage of Chancellor George Osborne’s spending review on 20 October.

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