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BBC 'strike threat over Christmas'

A 48-hour strike by BBC journalists is coming to an end after more disruption to programmes in a row over pensions, with an emerging threat of industrial action over Christmas and the New Year.

The National Union of Journalists said the second day of the walkout was again solidly supported, with picket lines mounted across the country amid calls for a motion of no confidence in the corporation's Director-General, Mark Thompson.

The BBC said the fall-out from the strike was being kept to a minimum, claiming that most viewers would not notice a drop in service.

A spokesman said: "It is not totally back to normal but not far off. It may not be quite as polished as it usually is, but for most viewers it will be the same service they are used to."

He added that Strictly Come Dancing programme would not be affected by the action, and the dancing stars of the show were crossing the picket lines.

Despite many of the corporation's journalists joining the action, viewing figures for Friday's news bulletins remained "more or less" in line with what is usual, the BBC said.

Leaders of the NUJ will next week consider calling industrial action over the festive break unless there is a breakthrough in the deadlocked row, sources said. "That would force managers and editors to work over the bank holidays," said one source.

NUJ general secretary Jeremy Dear said the second day of the strike was again strongly supported and he maintained there was disruption to radio and TV news programmes.

Speaking from a picket line in Glasgow, he said: "News programmes have virtually been written off in Scotland and the BBC has been disrupted again today."

Mr Dear said journalists now had little trust in the BBC management and revealed he had received calls for a petition of no confidence in Mr Thompson: "They have got so many things wrong, from executive pay to the freezing of the licence fee as well as the cuts to journalists' pensions."


From Belfast Telegraph