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इंडियन आवाज़     09 Dec 2021 02:46:00      انڈین آواز

BBC increases religious programming

The BBC’s major religous programmes currently include Songs of Praise (above) and Radio 4’s Thought for the Day. Photograph: Richard Kendal/BBC/

Richard Bacon and Susanna Reid are to present a new religion and ethics programme on BBC1 from next month.

Sunday Morning Live will feature short films and discussions between the hosts and their studio guests, opening out to an audience who will interact with them through phone calls, videos and emails. Bacon also has a daily afternoon show on Radio 5 Live, while Reid co-presents BBC Breakfast.

The new series, which is being made in Belfast, will have an initial run of 20 live episodes. The first programme airs on 11 July and its promise of topicality and accessibility is a throwback to The Heaven and Earth Show, a magazine show that had a cosier feel than the more adversarial format of its successor, The Big Questions, which one former panellist likened to a "lynch mob".

The new show’s launch may appease those institutions that continue to despair at the perceived decline of the quality and quantity of religious programming.

Last February, the Church of England passed a motion that proposed it "express its deep concern about the overall reduction in religious broadcasting across British television in recent years".

The motion also called 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".

Last month Roger Bolton, presenter of Radio 4’s Feedback, called for BBC News to appoint an editor for religion, as it has for business and finance.

Bolton, who used to present Sunday on Radio 4, said the BBC needed such an appointment to improve its coverage of religious affairs and to bring a spiritual perspective to general news stories.

Religious programming will experience a revival this year. Next Monday, Channel 4 debuts a 90-second slot that will run after the nightly news and offer a view on a religious or spiritual issue.

Unlike the BBC’s Thought for the Day, it will be open to atheists and secularists in addition to representatives from major religions.

There are also two documentaries under way about Pope Benedict XVI – one from Channel 4, presented by the human rights activist Peter Tatchell, and the other from the BBC, presented by the campaign strategist Mark Dowd – to coincide with the papal visit to the UK in September.

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