[Bible Prophecy News] Church of England voices fears over BBC cutbacks

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Pastor Dale Morgan

May 12, 2010, 2:55:10 PM5/12/10
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Perilous Times

Church of England voices fears over BBC cutbacks

Corporation's strategy review could result in fewer religious programmes and less content online, says C of E

    * Mark Sweney
    * guardian.co.uk, Wednesday 12 May 2010 07.28 BST

Right Rev Nigel McCulloch, bishop of Manchester

The BBC should not have 'a mandate to produce a smaller number of big-budget programmes for bigger audiences,' said the Right Rev Nigel McCulloch, bishop of Manchester. Photograph: Don McPhee for the Guardian

The Church of England has expressed concern that the BBC's controversial strategic review could lead to less religious programming.

In its submission to the BBC Trust on director general Mark Thompson's strategy review, the Church of England said plans to refocus programme output must not mean giving up on content that appeals to smaller audiences, including religious output.

In March Thompson said that the BBC's strategic review would see a change in approach with tens of millions more each year set to be ploughed into high quality "content creation".

The BBC has been criticised for adopting an approach that means that niche services, such as 6 Music, are facing the axe because they do not offer the value for money in terms of cost per viewer or listener.

"This strategy should not be interpreted simply as a mandate to produce a smaller number of big-budget programmes for bigger audiences," said the Right Rev Nigel McCulloch, the bishop of Manchester, in the Church of England's strategy review submission to the BBC Trust.

"We would add that 'breadth of appeal' is also a phrase that has been much-repeated in the past, but appears less in the director general's present proposals. We would like to see this concept re-emphasised. The BBC should continue to retain at its core the imperative to produce programmes appealing to a wide range of tastes and interests and of broad general appeal," McCulloch added.

The Church of England also had concerns that the BBC's online plans to cut half of the web pages it publishes might affect religious output.

"'Doing fewer things better' is a reasonable aim, but nobody wants their area of interest to be the thing that isn't done any more," the C of E submission said. "The BBC therefore needs to consider carefully the impact of cutting back on sections of its online provision that do not have significant market impact, especially given that years of development and input invested already by the corporation will make it even less likely that external providers will be prepared to 'catch up' and fill the gaps left behind in non-commercially-lucrative areas."

The church was "particularly concerned" about online religion and ethics content provided by BBC Regions that it believed was under threat.

"Removal of these services ... would almost certainly consign this valuable type content to the cache of history, as they will not be readily replicated by unbiased, trusted providers if the BBC pulls the plug," it said.

The church is also concerned with making sure there is "appropriate resource" set aside to "ensure high-quality provision of content that reflects and explores religion". The church, at its general synod in February, reiterated a "deep concern" about the overall reduction in religious broadcasting on British TV.
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