Ofcom report reveals ‘dramatic collapse’ in religious broadcasting

The time given to religious programmes on mainstream British television has fallen to its lowest level since records began in 2010, an Ofcom report has shown.

Former BBC editor and executive Roger Bolton said the figures revealed “a dramatic collapse” in the amount of Public Service Broadcasting (PSB) devoted to ‘Religion and Ethics’.

The watchdog’s data for TV and audio-visual contains PSB hours of output between 2010 and 2022, by genre, for the BBC, Channel 4, Channel 5 and ITV.

Zero provision

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.

However, speaking to Premier, Bolton observed that the situation was far worse when considering “programmes made for British television and shown for the first time in peak”, where there had been an 85 per cent fall since 2012.

He also noted that, in relation to this particular genre, Channel 4 had been “the most prolific broadcaster ten years ago”, but was now “providing nothing at all”.

Noting a trend among broadcasters to move content on to digital platforms, he warned that the 4.2 million adults who never use the internet would soon be told “sorry, chaps, you can’t have anything to do with religion”.