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Photo by Erik Mclean on Unsplash
Photo by Erik Mclean on Unsplash
World News

'Religion is as relevant as it was 100 years ago': Faith programming to continue on the BBC

by Lydia Davies

BBC heads of religion and ethics have confirmed that faith programming will stay on television and radio, not just digital platforms, as the BBC celebrates a century of religious broadcasting.

Tim Pemberton, Head of Religion and Ethics for BBC Audio, and Daisy Scalchi, Head of Religion and Ethics for Television, in a joint interview with the BBC stressed that senior managers are "enthusiastic about religious programming," despite budgetary constraints necessitating content to reach as broadly as possible.

Pemberton reflected on the pandemic era, saying, “religion was as relevant as it was 100 years ago,” highlighting the pivotal role of broadcasts when churches were closed.

Addressing the decline in church attendance versus interest in spirituality, Pemberton noted, "Whereas formal religion...may decline over time...that’s different to people’s interest in religion and people’s engagement in spirituality." Scalchi added that despite more people identifying as 'None,' this doesn't equate to disinterest in religion. "They're actually a really complex group of people who often are quite warm towards religion," she explained.

Despite budget challenges affecting all genres due to inflation, Scalchi assured that their focus remains on maximizing content reach. She cited Love, faith and me among series with significant digital success. Gareth Malone’s Easter passion was highlighted as a cross-platform initiative bringing the Passion story to a broad audience. Scalchi remarked on its importance: "It brought the Passion story to a really broad audience...we’re making sure that that stays front and centre of our offering at Easter.”

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