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TSSA slams BBC's reporting of rail affairs

6 April 2017

Responding to the news "revealed" today by a BBC Freedom of Information (FOI) request that staff shortages on London Underground meant that at least one Tube station a day was not able to open in 2016.

TSSA slams BBC's reporting of rail affairs and will ask the Director General to review the corporations news gathering and news agenda priorities.TSSA General Secretary, Manuel Cortes said,

"While the BBC's efforts to investigate Tube station closures via a freedom of information request may appear laudable, it begs the question why did they not cover this news story last year? Where were their journalists when we were complaining loudly about the effects of Boris Johnson's culling of nearly 800 Tube jobs? Where were their journalists when we warned of the detrimental effects this cull and the closure of ticket offices would have on passenger safety, tube security and the necessary numbers of staff needed to keep tube stations open?

"Did they not read Sadiq Khan's pledge in his Mayoral manifesto to review the Tory Tube cuts as part of his London security review - even when it made front page news on the Evening Standard last April? Did they not notice Tube stains were closed way more frequently than once a day when TSSA members' overtime ban proved Boris cut's had left the network without the staff numbers to keep the 227 stations open? Did they not notice the tube strikes taking place - as they were happening in January - because our members were increasingly scared, frustrated and fed up of the time taken by the new City Hall administration to reverse the damage done by the Tories?

"Did they not notice when in February there was much relief at news that 325 jobs were to be restored to the tube to undo the worst excesses of the Johnson jobs cull and allay the worst fears of our members for the safety of both passengers and the tube as a workspace?

"I'd really like to say "better late than never" on arriving at the scene of last year's big Tube story over a year late, but I've noticed this is not the attitude of BBC news to delayed trains for which they prefer to blame the industry's workers rather than the systemic problems associated with privatisation and outsourcing.

"Tardiness at the scene of the story is not news reporting it is just bad journalism. So many missed opportunities to cover this story last year does not speak of one sloppy journalist but a whole sloppy news reporting system at the BBC. This FOI today reveals the historical fact that Johnson cut 777 tube jobs. It was public service and broadcastable news last year that the BBC chose to miss. TSSA sent them the same press releases as other news organisations who covered the story as it happened. We also spoke to many of the BBC's news gatherers.

"But I hope now the BBC seem to have, very belatedly, decided to get on top of their transport brief, they stay with it and finally begin to properly scrutinise why the rail industry is now being hived off into 75% foreign ownership by a Tory government who put privateering ideology before passenger interests. There are plenty of news stories here. We'll be only to happy to divert some of our resources to help them expose the scandals going on across Britain's rail networks to support the BBC's public service obligation to keep it's audience properly informed on current rail industry affairs.

"I will be writing to the BBC's Head of News and the Director General and ask them to review their news gathering procedures and news agenda priorities. Let's see how long it takes them to write back!"

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