Letter: TV religion

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The Independent Culture
Sir: Recently I wrote to you about the complete lack of Christmas Day worship on BBC television (letter, 12 December). I seem to have touched a nerve, for the story has received considerable coverage in national newspapers and on radio and television. The only response I have had from the BBC so far has been a "with compliments" slip.

I am beginning to think that the cause of the malaise at the BBC is that its corporate thinking is dominated by fear. The superficial fear is about a "ratings war"; but there may be a deeper fear which its treatment of religion symbolises. Perhaps it no longer has the confidence to deal with religious concepts of death or eternity or mercy or human meaning. It seems bewildered not only about religious matters but also about its own corporate purpose.

The BBC is a very significant part of our national life and needs to discover what the potential and purpose of public service broadcasting should be in the new millennium. Preoccupation with ratings and marginalisation of religion are the signs that confidence is seriously lacking.

When will the necessary public debate begin?


(The Right Rev Christopher Herbert, Bishop of St Albans)

St Albans, Hertfordshire