BBC committed to continuing religious broadcasting

Religious programming on the BBC will continue to be delivered across traditional platforms, the broadcaster has said.

Daisy Scalchi, Head of Religion and Ethics for BBC Television, and her Audio counterpart Tim Pemberton, told the Church Times that the Corporation would not marginalise its religious content by making it digital-only.

Across all public service broadcasters, the number of hours devoted to ‘Religion and Ethics’ programming fell from 243 in 2010 to 140 in 2022 – a drop of 42 per cent over twelve years.


As the BBC marks the centenary of its religious broadcasting, Pemberton remarked that religion is as relevant in 2024 “as it was 100 years ago”.

He also observed: “Our programmes are very buoyant: people are still engaging with them and still really like what we do.”

Scalchi said: “We’re certainly seeing with our viewer figures that there is definitely no diminishing or reduction in interest in our programmes about faith and belief.”

She added: “I know that there’s been some concern around programmes moving online, and therefore being less accessible. But that’s not the plan with religion content”.

Media Bill

In March, Peers criticised the Government for ditching the requirement for mainstream British television to cover religious programming.

Currently, public service broadcasters, including BBC, ITV and Channel 4, must “include a suitable quantity and range of programmes dealing with science, religion and other beliefs, social issues, matters of international significance or interest and matters of specialist interest”.

But the Government’s Media Bill replaces the list of protected genres with merely a duty to provide “a broad range of audiovisual content”, which is “likely to meet the needs and satisfy the interests of as many different audiences as practicable”.

The Rt Revd the Lord Bishop of Leeds Nicholas Baines criticised the change, highlighting that “guaranteeing space for religion is not about propaganda for any particular faith or religion. The point is simply that you cannot understand the world if you do not understand religion.”

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