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:
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.
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.
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.