17 December 2009
A proper portrayal of religion that reflects and explores the factors giving people’s lives purpose should form an explicit part of the BBC’s requirement to “sustain citizenship and civil society”, argues the Church of England in its response to a BBC Trust consultation on BBC Television.
The Church calls for the BBC Trust to consider amending their television channels’ service licences “to give explicit recognition to the fact that religious issues are a matter of general public interest and not just the concern of the religious”.
It also says that the BBC’s Public Purpose of “reflecting Britain to the world and the world to Britain” should explicitly recognise the significance of religion as part of news and current affairs output, and should be supported by adequate specialist knowledge within the Corporation.
The submission, signed by the Rt Revd Nigel McCulloch, the Church of England’s lead spokesman on media issues, is in response to a consultation being held by the BBC Trust into the performance of BBC One, BBC Two and BBC Four against the channels’ respective Service Licences, and to inform their future strategy.
In its response, the Church acknowledges the recent stability in hours devoted to religious programming across the three television channels, noting the continuing provision of a small number of weekly religious television programmes and the BBC’s live coverage of some major public religious events in particular. The Church’s response cites BBC radio’s continued broadcast of worship services, but notes with concern the fall in the number of acts of worship currently screened on television. The paper argues that, “while BBC radio continues to excel at broadcasting worship services, it is regrettable that television has not explored new ways of introducing audiences to the authentic experience of religious communities in worship.”
The Church’s full submission to the BBC Trust’s review of Television can be found here.
The BBC Trust is expected to publish a report on the findings of its review during 2010.