Wednesday, 10 February 2010

General Synod - Wednesday's Broadcasting debate

Synod debated this private member’s motion on religious broadcasting, proposed by Nigel Holmes, this (Wednesday) morning:

That this Synod call upon the BBC and Ofcom to explain why British television, which was once exemplary in its coverage of religious and ethical issues, now marginalizes the few such programmes which remain and completely ignored the Christian significance of Good Friday 2009.

An amendment was moved by the Bishop of Manchester, and carried by Synod, which reworded the motion to read:

That this Synod

(a) express its appreciation of the vital role played by those engaged in communicating religious belief and practice through the media, at a time of changes within the industry; and

(b) express its deep concern about the overall reduction in religious broadcasting across British television in recent years, and call upon mainstream broadcasters to nurture and develop the expertise to create and commission high quality religious content across the full range of their output, particularly material that imaginatively marks major festivals and portrays acts of worship.

The amended motion was carried by 267 votes in favour with 4 against and 2 recorded abstentions.

Here are some press reports.

Stephen Bates in The Guardian Synod rejects motion attacking broadcasters over lack of religious programmes

Martha Linden of the Press Association in the Independent Church concern over religious broadcast hours

Avril Ormsby of Reuters UK Church of England laments drop in religious TV programmes

The BBC has Church of England concerned by ‘religious TV cuts’

Posted by Peter Owen on Wednesday, 10 February 2010 at 5:30pm GMT | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Church of England | General Synod

Here's an occasion when one might well thank the Bishop of Manchester for his amendment, replacing a wholly negative motion with one which commends what is good and seeks to build on that. Leaving aside Songs of Praise which I can't stand, but others obviously value, it seems to me that there has been a great deal on the television recently (not to mention the radio) about religious and ethical matters. These include Diarmaid's History and the currently running series on the Bible which has asked some very good questions about how we perceive myth and story and must be really irritating the fundamentalists. The BBC is not an arm of the state or the established church and it is not there to do the church's job for it. The real problem as always is that the church and the Church of England is sending out such a message of confusion and rancour that Jesus' real message of love, hope and inclusivity is getting lost in all the chaff. Young people may indeed much prefer the internet but they are also turned off and turned away by a church which is trying fast to row back to a an imagined unity characterised by exclusivity and exclusion.

Posted by: Richard Ashby on Wednesday, 10 February 2010 at 6:01pm GMT
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