Devil and Detail 2

Tuesday 14 September 2010, 11:22

Torin Douglas Torin Douglas is the BBC's media correspondent. Twitter: @BBCTorinD

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If you read this morning's papers (Mail, Telegraph, Independent), you may think that the BBC unions have called a strike for 6 October, the day that David Cameron is expected to give his speech at the Conservative Party conference. This is not actually the case - they have threatened one, not called one.

A while ago, I pointed out here that Jeremy Hunt hadn't attacked the BBC in the way he was said to have done. I encouraged people to read what he actually did say.

Similarly, I would urge you to read the BBC unions' statement, responding to the BBC's new pensions offer. You can see it on the BECTU website.

It starts with the words: "BECTU, the NUJ and Unite have announced a further programme of meetings with members to discuss new pension proposals from the BBC. However the backdrop to the consultations will be formal notice of a number of strike dates."

"Formal notice" - a legal requirement the unions have to go through if they are going to go ahead with strikes.

The quote from Gerry Morrissey, BECTU general secretary, begins: "We believe that a further round of meetings with members is the next best course of action in the current dispute."

The quote from Jeremy Dear, NUJ general secretary, ends: "We will consult with members, give the BBC the chance to address our ongoing concerns. If they fail to do so they will face strike action."

It was the Press Association that set the tone of the coverage with this headline: "BBC WORKERS TO STRIKE IN PENSIONS ROW."

Its opening sentence read: "Thousands of BBC workers are to stage two 48-hour strikes in a row over pensions which threatens the corporation's coverage of the Conservative Party conference and the Government's comprehensive spending review, it was announced today."

Yet in paragraph four it went on: "Unions will consult with their members over the next few weeks before meeting on 1 October to decide whether to press ahead with the strikes."

Read the unions' statement and see whether you think it is accurately reflected in the coverage. 

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