Lords: Drop in religious radio a ‘disappointment’

The decline in religious broadcasting on the BBC World Service has been branded a “disappointment” by members of the House of Lords during a debate on the future of the radio station.

The Bishop of Chester said that religious broadcasting has an important role to play by contributing to “religious understanding”.

He therefore expressed “disappointment that over the past 10 years the religious programming output of the World Service has dropped to a third of what it was before”.


His sentiments were echoed by Lord Howell of Guildford, who said he hoped that “some changes may be possible”.

However, Lord Howell, a Foreign Office Minister, said that this was strictly a matter for the Service’s editorial board.

The Lords’ remarks are the latest in a line of criticisms to be levelled against the BBC’s religious output.


Earlier this year Radio 4 presenter Roger Bolton hit out at BBC bosses for viewing “religious coverage as a rather tiresome obligation to be minimised rather than a rich and promising area to explore”.

At the time a BBC Spokesman said: “The BBC’s commitment to religion and ethics broadcasting is unequivocal.

“BBC News and Current Affairs has a dedicated religion correspondent, and topical religious and ethical affairs stories are featured across all our BBC networks.”


However, in January another of the Corporation’s radio presenters, Simon Mayo, said that religion is “increasingly driven to the margin” on the BBC.

And last year Radio 2 presenter Jeremy Vine said he believed it had become “almost socially unacceptable to say you believe in God.”

He said he believed Christ is who he said he is, but didn’t think he could say so on his show.

Deep concern

In February the Church of England Synod voted to express “deep concern” at the reduction of religious broadcasting across British television in recent years.

Last year Bishops also criticised the BBC for treating faith like a “freak show” and raised concerns about the appointment of Aaqil Ahmed, a Muslim, as the BBC’s Head of Religious Programming.

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