Church of England Tells BBC Not to Sideline Religion

LONDON – The Church of England has urged the BBC not to reduce its religious content as it considers what its broadcasting priorities should be.

In a submission to the BBC's consultation on the future of its programming, Bishop of Manchester the Rt. Rev. Nigel McCulloch said religion was too present in the "public ether" for it to be sidelined by the BBC.

"The Church of England is particularly concerned with ensuring that appropriate resources are allocated toward ensuring high-quality provision of contents that reflects and explores religion," he said.

"We are concerned that religious broadcasting is one such area where output could not sustain further cuts without serious deterioration of the BBC's proud record of providing engaging content."

The bishop recommended that the BBC invest more resources into its College of Journalism and that it make religion a compulsory module.

The issue of religious programming on the BBC has become contentious in recent years, with Christians voicing frustration that not enough hours are given to religious issues, particularly on television, while secular groups like the National Secular Society argue that there is already too much religious programming.

In February, the Church of England's General Synod passed a motion expressing its "deep concern" at the number of hours being given to religious programs by the BBC and other terrestrial channels.

The motion was put forward by Nigel Holmes, who criticized the BBC for "seldom" showing worship on TV and suffering from a "lack of innovation combined with marginalized scheduling" when it came to its religious content.