BBC Religious Coverage a ‘Mess’ Because Liberal Staff ‘Out of Touch’, Says Presenter

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The BBC’s coverage of religion is a “mess” because its young metropolitan liberal staff are dangerously out-of-touch, a presenter has claimed.

Roger Bolton, the host of Feedback on Radio 4, said the young liberals were even more out-of-touch with migrant communities, for whom religion is especially important.

Writing for Anglican publication the Church Times, Mr Bolton said: “The Corporation has no head of religion, no religion news editor (unlike almost every other area such as sport, economics, and the arts), and a predominantly young workforce, which is more liberal and secular than the rest of the country.

“It is dangerously out of touch, not least with immigrant communities, whose faiths are central to their lives.”

“The Corporation is not “fit for purpose” in this vital public-service area,” he added. “And, although it is now finally trying to develop such a strategy [for religious coverage], it is dangerously late in doing so.

“There are real doubts about whether it has the will or ability to implement an effective response to a mess that is largely of its own making.”

He described the Corporation’s approach as “dysfunctional”, highlighting a recent decision to close most staff roles in its Religion and Ethics Department and outsource the production of Songs of Praise, it’s main Christian show on Sundays.

“The key questions are whether the Corporation has the expertise and commitment to commission the best programmes in this area, and whether the market will provide in every area vacated by the BBC. I think that all this is debatable.”

A BBC spokesman told the Mail: “Who’s doing more than the BBC on religion? If you look around I think you’ll find the answer is no one.”

In November last year, Mr Bolton made similar criticisms in the Radio Times, saying many staff at the BBC simply could not understand religion.

“This is not about promoting faith; it’s about promoting knowledge and understanding — surely a central role of a public service broadcaster? But the BBC is coming up short.”


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