BBC considers expanding its religious broadcasting output

BBC considers expanding its religious broadcasting output November 14, 2016

Religious leaders in the UK have been invited by the BBC’s Director-General Lord Hall, above, to ‘join discussions about plans for multi-faith coverage’.
The move, according to this report, follows a review earlier this year that found that the BBC’s religious output was “too Christian”.
The Times reported that an increase in broadcasting for minority faiths “would not be at the expense of Christian output”,  suggesting the BBC will move towards an overall increase in religious programming.
Spotting a unique opportunity, The Muslim Council of Britain has asked the BBC to consider broadcasting Islamic prayers.
A BBC source told the Independent:

The BBC will do more to represent faiths across the board, and has specifically rejected the notion of in any way diminishing what it does around Christianity.

Another BBC source told the Times that:

Faith is remarkably important. The BBC can and must do more to ensure that the important role faith plays is recognised and reflected in our programming.

NSS campaigns director Stephen Evans said:

It’s not the job of the BBC to promote religion. By ignoring the fact that religious broadcasting is the least popular genre amongst its viewers, the BBC risks alienating the non-religious majority.
There are numerous niche channels offering round-the-clock religious programming for people that want that sort of thing. There is no need for the BBC to ramp up religious programming that few people are interested in. Increasing the total amount of religious broadcasting will simply mean producing more content that very few people enjoy or watch.
There is a place for informative and thought-provoking religious programming that reflects the religion and belief demographics in the UK, but simply broadcasting acts of worship or religious messages would be the totally wrong approach.

Meanwhile, its reported here that, immediately after the US election, a radio station in Madison, Wisconsin, pulled the plug on Freethought Radio, which it has been broadcasting for a decade.
The Freedom From Religion programme was hosted by Annie Laurie Gaylor with her husband, Dan Barker. The couple are co-presidents of the Madison-based state/church watchdog and freethought advocacy group. Gaylor said:

We opened up the Wisconsin State Journal the morning after the election to read the remarkable announcement that progressive talk had been banished forthwith on 92.1 FM and replaced with around-the-clock Christmas music! It’s not exactly the appropriate vehicle for Freethought Radio.

Barker says FFRF is looking into other Madison broadcast options.

We’re looking at this as an opportunity rather than a disruption. Stay tuned.

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  • L.Long

    That may be a good idea if they would transmit their ACTUAL dogma and not cherry pick to make it all sound good!

  • barriejohn

    Great news – so they’ll be giving equal air time to the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, Satanism, Cargo Cult, Odinism, and all the other religions then. There won’t be enough hours in the day for it all!

  • Rocky

    “Faith is remarkably important. The BBC can and must do more to ensure that the important role faith plays is recognised and reflected in our programming.”
    Oh that’s a refreshing viewpoint. Yes faith is important because it is at the root of most of the troubles, divisions, conflict, mysogeny, beggary, superstition and retardation in the world. The BBC is very responsible to broadcast programming to show how evil religions really are. Well done the Beeb. I suggest they schedule in The Atheist Experience with Matt Dillahunty for starters. Wonderful.

  • Rocky

    The BBC must treat all religions equally. Give them all equal time. Like none at all … not one minute … and ditch the awful BBC R4 Today TFTD.

  • Daz

    Is there a Church Of Porn?* I mean, if we’re gonna get balanced religious broadcasting…
    *Silly question; there’s bound to be.

  • barriejohn

    Daz: VERY stupid question!

  • AgentCormac

    Like we don’t have enough religion-inspired stupidity in the world already. That’s right Lord Hall, let’s just add on another layer of the same shameless, knee-bending bullshit.
    BTW, anyone else been watching The Young Pope on Sky Atlantic? Best drama I’ve seen in a long while. Absolute power – now that’s what popes and there church are really all about!

  • StephenJP

    Yes, the main problem with the BBC’s religious broadcasting is not that it’s exclusively Christian,it’s that it’s exclusively religious.

  • barriejohn

    AC: I have read about it, but I don’t subscribe to Sky. Can it possibly beat this though?

  • Robster

    It’s probably cheap, roll out a dusty old cleric of some sort, a crackly record of church organ “music”, some crappy green screen special effects and bingo! Religious programming.

  • jay

    Barriejohn ” so they’ll be giving equal air time to the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster,…”
    FSM folks need to get more attention… declare a jihad against the apostates who eat gluten free pasta.

  • John

    I have argued for some time that the secular movement should be setting up its own schools with a secular ethos.
    It seems we need to set up secular radio and TV stations.
    The days when the BBC was a public broadcasting service are long gone.
    How about a British Freethought Radio and Freethought TV?
    We could use BFR and BFTV as call-station signs?

  • Paul

    I am a bit surprised that ‘faith’ is considered so important. I have never understood why. I would rather have thought that good lives with good education, humanity, charity without demanding, freedom, clean water, safe streets, employment, no threats internal or external, health and welfare ought be more important. And frankly ‘ faiths’ provides little of that – hard work and cooperation for a better secular society are more likely candidates.

  • barriejohn

    Robster: Is this the sort of thing that you had in mind?

  • barriejohn

    Here’s a bit of good news for once:

  • Newspaniard

    As I record all the programmes I want to watch from the TV companies and usually watch when I want to. As I wander through the daily schedules, religious broadcasting will be just another subject to ignore like sport, soaps and fly-on-the-wall tedium.

  • Paul

    That’s a good idea- no one needs to watch or listen to anything they don’t wish to. Unless you are deeply religious then it seems it’s important to go out of your way to watch or listen so that you can become offended and rant about it later. However, I think the bigger issue is the caught licence payers in the U.K. Whose money is funding this drivel.
    If there are less and less religious people in this country then there rightly ought to be less not more religious nonsense. Whether anyone watches it is perhaps not the issue it’s the tax to pay for it that is.

  • Daz

    Bradlaugh was indeed a great man. And, wouldn’t you know it, he had to be posthumously defended against the charge of having made a death-bed conversion. Some things never change!

  • barriejohn

    Daz: I didn’t realize that, but I should have guessed it. Did you know that Christopher Hitchens also recanted before his death (allegedly)?

  • Rocky

    Hitchens did sustain a deathbed conversion. The opportunist priest became an atheist before Christopher drew his last.

  • Cali Ron

    Rocky: BAM! That one rocked! Hitch would have loved that.
    Jay: Apostate? No, a member of the great and here to for never heard of Gluten Free Church (GFC). I worship (well, actually consume) only gluten free and have banished the great food Satan gluten from my life. My motto, “Don’t Glute On Me”. Tithes and offerings can be arranged by contacting me, Cali Ron and I can assure you they will not be spent on anything containing gluten. New members are welcome, but a vow to lead a gluten free life is mandatory. Fellow Celiacs and wheat allergy sufferers are members by default. This is of course in association with my other religion: Drinking. Care to join me in prayer.

  • barriejohn

    Cali Ron: I don’t know why, in the US at any rate, people don’t, instead of declaring themselves a “company”, or moving their assets “offshore”, just set up a new religion, and avoid taxation that way. It can’t be difficult. Many charities in the UK are completely bogus as well, with most of their income going in salaries and “expenses”, though I don’t know the situation over there. It would certainly put the cat amongst the pigeons if thousands of us set up new religions, and bombarded the BBC Religion and Lack of Ethics Department with our “promotional material”, demanding coverage. They could quite easily be snowed under. Here are a few handy hints:

  • John

    At times like this, I – again – find myself asking the question, “Why are things the way they are?”
    As ever, the answer that comes to me is that the ones with the money and the power want it that way.
    This suggests to me that the BBC is merely obeying orders from the Government to increase religious programming.
    Don’t forget, the “negotiations” between the Government and the BBC over future licence fee levels are still ongoing.

  • Cali Ron

    barriejohn: Thanks for that valuable link. Excellent advise for starting a new religion. My religion will be as full of shite as the next religion, but it will be my shite. Now I need some gullible followers. If I could get Trump to endorse it I’d have millions of instant followers who are easily deluded, don’t question lies or bother to scrutinize what they are signing on to. Now if I could get an English branch started I could get some of that free BBC air time. Any takers out there? Join the movement and get tax breaks today.
    GFC, Don’t Glute On Me!

  • John

    Have you all seen ‘John Oliver Shuts Down Fake Church Over Unsolicited Semen’ at
    Maybe some of you could start your own Our Lady of Perpetual Exemption Church to gain perpetual exemption from HMRC tax demands?

  • barriejohn

    John: That’s hilarious. As a young man I associated with fundamentalist Christians who constantly assured me (with relation to hypocritical Brethren turning up at conferences in their Rolls Royces) that “The Lord knows who to give the money to.” I expect that Donald Trump was only blessed with his billions because as a youngster he donated all his money to the homeless, or something. God doesn’t make mistakes.

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  • John

    One other approach to this could be to insist that the BBC output on Fridays is all conducted solely in Hebrew (to cater for Jewish religious people), solely in Arabic on Saturdays (to cater for Muslims) and solely in Latin on Sundays (to cater for Christians).
    That should just about finish them off!

  • barriejohn

    John: You’re back to front. It’s Friday for Muslims (and Noodles, of course):
    I expect, were we to be equally “respectful” to all religions, we could declare every day of the week a “day of rest”!

  • John

    Sorry about that – these damn religions are all so complex!
    Is there a “sacred” language for Pastafarians, which we could call on the BBC to use on an all-day broadcasting basis?
    Are Ministers of the Holy Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster well versed in the language?
    It’s the very least the BBC could do for His Noodleness.