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Dismay as BBC announces plans to step up religion in its programming across the board

The BBC will be increasing the number of religious characters in its primetime drama series as part of wider efforts to represent faith more in mainstream shows. Humanists UK is dismayed by this news as there is no corresponding intention to do the same for the non-religious, despite the fact that the non-religious are already almost entirely overlooked by the majority of the BBC’s programming.

In light of acknowledging that traditional worship programmes (such as Songs of Praise) ‘preach to the converted’ and alienate other viewers, the BBC has announced plans to introduce religious themes and storylines across the spectrum of its programming to better represent religions.

The announcement follows the BBC’s 2017 Religion and Ethics Review in which it pledged to represent everyday faith in its mainstream output to help people develop their religious literacy, but said nothing about introducing equal coverage of the non-religious.

Humanists UK has long campaigned for equal programming for and about the non-religious in line with existing programming for their religious counterparts across public broadcasting output, yet the BBC continues to fail to take action to do this. This is despite obligations placed on the BBC to do so in its Charter as well as in human rights and equality legislation.

Humanists UK Director of Policy and Public Affairs Richy Thompson said:

‘Despite comprising a growing majority of the UK’s population, the non-religious are already vastly overlooked across the BBC’s output. We are therefore very concerned to hear that the BBC intends to up its religious content across its programming without a commitment to ensure equitable for the non-religious as this issue is only going to get worse – and the BBC get more out of touch with its viewers.

‘We urge the BBC to instead take action to better represent its license fee payers and focus its efforts on making programmes for and about the non-religious, whose beliefs are just as worthy as coverage, explanation, and exploration as their religious counterparts.’

Notes

For more information, contact Humanists UK Press Manager Casey-Ann Seaniger at casey@humanism.org.uk or phone 020 7324 3078.

For more information about Humanists UK campaign on broadcasting, visit https://humanism.org.uk/campaigns/human-rights-and-equality/broadcasting/

At Humanists UK, we advance free thinking and promote humanism to create a tolerant society where rational thinking and kindness prevail. Our work brings non-religious people together to develop their own views, helping people be happier and more fulfilled in the one life we have. Through our ceremonies, education services, and community and campaigning work, we strive to create a fair and equal society for all.

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