BBC plan to increase non-Christian religious coverage welcomed

BBC plan to increase non-Christian religious coverage welcomed

Jewish leaders praise national broadcaster's move to offer more airtime to minority religions to better reflect British society

A choir singing choral evensong in York Minster
A choir singing choral evensong in York Minster

Jewish leaders have welcomed a BBC plan to increase prime-time coverage of non-Christian festivals including Rosh Hashanah and Passover as well as Eid and Diwali.

The corporation said this week the move was to address concerns that it does not reflect British society.

As reported in The Times, the plan includes proposals to inject more religious themes into mainstream TV and radio, with viewers seeing  protagonists of popular dramas grappling with dilemmas caused by their faiths.

In addition, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu and Sikh holy days will be marked on popular, as opposed to specialist, programmes including The One Show and Chris Evans’s Radio 2 breakfast show.

The Times said the BBC report followed a year-long review that was told that people of all faiths were “often absent, poorly presented or satirised”.

Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis and members of the Board of Deputies were among those consulted for the review. Rabbi Mirvis this week welcomed the report, along with Board chief executive Gillian Merron.

She said: “We are glad the BBC has committed itself to expanding its coverage around religious festivals and we would also like to see BBC coverage take into account the full diversity of the Jewish community in the UK and also for that coverage to strive to be both rigorous and accurate.”

Liberal Judaism director of strategy and partnerships Rabbi Charley Baginsky also praised the BBC move.

She said: “Religion plays a huge part in many people’s lives, consciously or unconsciously. The decision by the BBC is a fantastic way of educating all of us on the multifaceted influence it plays.”

She also noted: “Historically, Jewish theology is the basis of much of the UK’s legal system, including the principle that we have a day of rest … while religion can inform our understanding of international relations.”

Among the BBC plans, the corporation highlighted a forthcoming major series on morality in the 21st century, planned for Radio 4, that will be presented by Emeritus Chief Rabbi Lord Sacks.

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