BBC is too Christian, must give more airtime to Muslim, Hindu and Sikh faiths: Internal report

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An internal report has said that the BBC was too Christian and it needed to give more airtime to Muslim, Hindu and Sikh faiths.

This report by the organisations’ head of religion and ethics, Aaqil Ahmad, has given hopes to more religious programmes to other faiths.

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In the report, according to London’s The Telegraph, one Muslim leader suggested the review could lead to Friday prayers from a mosque being broadcast in the same way that Christian church services currently feature in the BBC’s schedules.

The Sunday Times reported that the report was now being considered by Lord Hall, the director general, who could make changes to make religious output less “disproportionate”,

Ahmed told a Commons meeting on religious literacy he had written a report for Lord Hall that would answer criticisms from non-Christian faiths that they were under-served.

Ahmed said in a statement: “Christianity remains the cornerstone of our output and there are more hours dedicated to it than there are to other faiths.

“Our output in this area is not static, though.

“It has evolved over the years and we regularly assess it.”

He added: “We do look at the number of hours we produce, and measure that against the religious make-up of society.”

Ahmed’s appoint as the BBC’s head of religion had become hugely controversial as he became the first Muslim to be appointed for the post. The BBC had vociferously defended its decision to hire Ahmed, a former Channel 4 editor.

The number of Muslims in Britain has doubled in a decade to three million.

Ibrahim Mogra, of the Muslim Council of Britain, said the BBC could televise Friday prayers from a mosque and extend coverage of Eid.

But he added: “We would not wish Christians to have any less exposure.”

The BBC’s religious output on television includes Songs of Praise and Sunday Morning Live, while radio also features a wide range of religious content including Thought for the Day on Radio Four’s Today programme.

Asked whether greater coverage of other faiths could lead to cuts in Christian coverage, a BBC spokesman said it was too early to say which programmes were safe but added that Songs of Praise would be secure.

“We … are actually intending to do more programming around Christianity and more on other faiths as well, so there is absolutely no question of an ‘either or’ on our output,” he added.

 

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