Commuters waiting hours to complain to TV journalists about the delays to their journeys during yesterday’s tube strike have called upon government to take action. They say Ofcom should make sure there are enough journalists with microphones and cameras for future strikes. Some commuters waited as long as four hours to blame unions and or the government for the transport strikes on TV and radio, with many complaining they were finally interviewed for as long as five minutes, with little or none of the footage being used that evening or the next day.
Mike Smythe of Carshalton said he was ‘fuming’ after waiting over three hours to complain to BBC London’s Gerry Smith about delays to his journey to work. ‘I have just stood here, waiting to say a carefully worded set of platitudes about the delay. And the thing is, there’s no information. You’d think this being the BBC and ITV, they’d let us know how long we’d have to wait to be vox popped, as they say in the trade-jargon. But no. As a licence fee payer, and to be fair, we pay for the commercials on ITV as well, I think they should make sure there are enough crews out there for us to moan to. Except obviously the dog and cat food commercials, obviously, as we don’t have any pets. In all honesty I could of got a bus home after the first hour but that’s not the point.’
Mr Smythe continued: ‘This is it. This is just what I said during the last transport strike to a crew from ITV’s London Tonight, about dog and cat food commercials and the fact we watch those commercials but never have had a dog, because of my wife’s allergies. But did they put that on the news? No. At least not during the bulletins I watched. They just showed me shrugging and saying ‘I spose we’ve got to put up with it.’ I was on for two seconds.’
Commuters outside London who were unaffected by industrial action, were ‘disappointed’ not to be interviewed about how long they might have had to wait to be interviewed if they too were threatened with strike action. Enid Smythurst, who looked for a news crew in Halifax Station for fifty minutes said: ‘And another thing. I don’t know how they choose the angry commuters they actually do put on the telly. During the last strike there was some bloke in London going on about dog food commercials. Well what’s that got to do with it?’