Tuesday 8 May 2007

Religion in the media revisited

Yesterday I reported that some religious believers were upset because the BBC failed to broadcast their recent inter-faith debate at the British Library, while some time ago I commented on a complaint by bishops that there wasn't enough religion on Radio 1. In both cases it appeared that believers regarded guaranteed media slots as their right.

It's good to find the progressive Christian website Ekklesia making the same point. Apparently they received a 'gentle chiding' from the Church of England Media Office for the way they reported the bishops' call. Seems the C of E weren't asking for guaranteed 'God slots' after all, but for 'proper coverage of religion across the board'.

Ekklesia's Simon Barrow responds:

So I wrote back: "If you are not asking for a discreet space on R1, what are you asking for? It's still primarily a music station. What do you want it to do? Play Christian music? Have Christian DJs? Invite religious spokespeople on?"

No response so far.

Barrow then provides an insight into the origins of the bishops' complaint about Radio 1, which has some interesting parallels with the fuss over the British Library event:

The fuss blew up, so I gather, because Radio 1 didn't cover Archbishop Rowan Williams' Easter sermon, unlike other networks. They just didn't regard it as newsworthy enough - and they make the point that it did receive treatment across the BBC radio spectrum.

The fact is, what an archbishop says is not necessarily of note to a post-Christendom society just because he is an archbishop. Whereas in the past, in an era more deferential to religious institutions per se, it might have been. The onus of the churches is to respond to that change, to connect, to see what they are doing and saying in a framework other than "religious issues", and not to be seen to be complaining all the time that they "deserve coverage".


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