Religious Programming on the BBC

Is theBBC biased towards creating religious programs focused predominantly on Islam versus other faiths? Apparently so, according to Hindu and Sikh leaders in the UK who claim that a disproportionate number of programs have been made about Islam, at the expense of programs on their own faiths. The Network of Sikh Organizations (NSO)media monitoring group analyzed programs from the BBC’s Religion and Ethics department and claim that since 2001, the BBC has made 41 programs on Islam, five on Hinduism and one on Sikhism.

Indarjit Singh, editor of the Sikh Messenger and a regular contributor to Thought for the Day on Radio 4’s Today programme, said Sikhs felt “brushed aside”. He said: “I think it’s probably unthinking, or inadvertent, but the bias is there. “I do know that within the Sikh community especially there is a feeling of concern over the lack of portrayal of their religion on television.” He added: “Of course it is important to educate non-Muslims about Islam, but it is also important to provide informative, open and respectful programming on all religions.” [link]

The people responsible for commissioning religious programming – whether on radio or television – acknowledge that world events have made a significant impact on their output – be it the death of John Paul II or the terrorist attacks of September 11 and July 7.

In a letter sent in July to the NSO, the head of the BBC’s Religion and Ethics, Michael Wakelin, denied that there was any bias. He said the demographic makeup of Britain meant that Britain’s 1.6 million Muslims outnumber Hindus and Sikhs by two to one. “Therefore,” he wrote, “if Muslims get 60 minutes a year, the Sikhs and Hindus should share 30 minutes each.” Further content on Islam, he added, was “no doubt sparked by the interest in the faith following 9/11” [link]

A spokesman for the BBC said they were committed to representing all of Britain’s faiths and rejected any claim of bias, adding that “In the autumn we will be covering Diwali from a Sikh perspective and we have a major new series for BBC Two in early 2009, including features on Hinduism and Sikhism.” But a number of MPs called on the BBC to do more to represent Britain’s minority faiths,

“I am disappointed,” said Mr Vaz. “It is only right that as licence fee payers all faiths are represented in a way that mirrors their make-up in society. I hope that the BBC … addresses the problem in its next year of programming.” [link]

Interestingly, a few months ago the BBC investigated anti-muslim bias at the Corporation’s own Asian Network radio station where more than 20 former and current employeeswrote a letter of complaint alleging that the station ignores Muslim listeners and plays less Pakistani and Bangladeshi music than it should.


bookmark bookmark bookmark bookmark bookmark bookmark bookmark bookmark bookmark bookmark bookmark bookmark
tabs-top


10 Responses to “Religious Programming on the BBC”

  1. saihaj says:

    I think it kind of makes sense to focus on Islam considering how much ignorance continues to exist. But to do it in a way of sensationalizing the faith and to play on people's fears is a tactic that many if not most media oulets depend on. It does surprise me that Sikhs would feel ignored by the BBC since it does seem to do a good job covering Sikh issues. That being said from a Sikh not living in the UK. I'm sure it's not as clear from the other side of the pond.

  2. saihaj says:

    I think it kind of makes sense to focus on Islam considering how much ignorance continues to exist. But to do it in a way of sensationalizing the faith and to play on people’s fears is a tactic that many if not most media oulets depend on. It does surprise me that Sikhs would feel ignored by the BBC since it does seem to do a good job covering Sikh issues. That being said from a Sikh not living in the UK. I’m sure it’s not as clear from the other side of the pond.

  3. Bik Singh says:

    As usual the BBC is being disingenuous citing 9/11 as one of the reasons for the disproportionate number of programmes which focus on Islam as compared to the other minority faiths. The same bias towards Islam was seen prior to 9/11. The excuse of population numbers also doesn't stack up. If the ratio of Muslims to non-Muslims is 2:1 then how can the BBC justify a ratio of 7:1 in favour of programmes on Islam? The ratio of Islam programmes to Sikhism ones is even starker. That ratio is 41:1 whereas the population ratio is 4.5:1!

  4. Bik Singh says:

    As usual the BBC is being disingenuous citing 9/11 as one of the reasons for the disproportionate number of programmes which focus on Islam as compared to the other minority faiths. The same bias towards Islam was seen prior to 9/11. The excuse of population numbers also doesn’t stack up. If the ratio of Muslims to non-Muslims is 2:1 then how can the BBC justify a ratio of 7:1 in favour of programmes on Islam? The ratio of Islam programmes to Sikhism ones is even starker. That ratio is 41:1 whereas the population ratio is 4.5:1!

  5. Muzumdar says:

    In addition, there is the tax issue.

    The BBC is funded solely by the tax payer; Sikhs and Hindus contribute vastly more in taxes compared to Muslims in the UK, so they rightly want to see value for their money.

    The BBC is also the mouthpiece of the liberal elite, who have no clue about religion and are scared shitless of offending Muslims, so generally portray Islam in the most flattering manner in their programming. While ignoring completely 'Eastern religions'.

  6. Muzumdar says:

    In addition, there is the tax issue.

    The BBC is funded solely by the tax payer; Sikhs and Hindus contribute vastly more in taxes compared to Muslims in the UK, so they rightly want to see value for their money.

    The BBC is also the mouthpiece of the liberal elite, who have no clue about religion and are scared shitless of offending Muslims, so generally portray Islam in the most flattering manner in their programming. While ignoring completely ‘Eastern religions’.

  7. Harinder says:

    It is all about 9/11 and 7/11 and the fear it generates which is the reason I guess.

    Violence especially in the name of GOD attracts lot of Publicity.

    Nazis ,Al Quedas , Bhinderwala ,Modis all belong to the same class of people.

    It makes people wonder if GOD is about love then why are GODs angry.

    No offence meant to any one .

    It is just an observation

  8. Harinder says:

    It is all about 9/11 and 7/11 and the fear it generates which is the reason I guess.
    Violence especially in the name of GOD attracts lot of Publicity.
    Nazis ,Al Quedas , Bhinderwala ,Modis all belong to the same class of people.
    It makes people wonder if GOD is about love then why are GODs angry.
    No offence meant to any one .
    It is just an observation

  9. Sidhu says:

    Reason is simple. As this whole terrorism thing has been associated with Islam, thats why. More over post 9/11 there was kind of a spark and that bug bit BBC also.

  10. Sidhu says:

    Reason is simple. As this whole terrorism thing has been associated with Islam, thats why. More over post 9/11 there was kind of a spark and that bug bit BBC also.