BBC's Mark Thompson says UK broadcasters are 'over-cautious' on Islam
The Times continues:
He said that the BBC and other major channels ‘have a special responsibility’ to ensure that debates about ‘faith and society’ and about any religion ‘should not be foreclosed or censored’.
In an effort to demonstrate that his remarks were not targeted solely at ensuring that Islam received journalistic scrutiny, Mr Thompson also referred to his decision to broadcast Jerry Springer, The Opera despite an avalanche of complaints from Christians unhappy at the depiction of Jesus in the satire.
“There is no point having a BBC which isn’t prepared to stand up and be counted; which will do everything it can to mitigate potential religious offence; but which will always be forthright in the defence of freedom of speech and of impartiality,” he said.
The lecture, Faith and the Media, also discussed how religious broadcasting at the BBC developed from the secularist perspective of the 1960s and 1970s, when Mr Thompson worked on Everyman, to faith-oriented programmes that tap a ‘sharp revival of interest in the spiritual potential’.
He contrasted The Passion, a traditional portrayal of Jesus Christ’s last days written by Frank Deasey, with the previous attempt to tell the story of his life, Dennis Potter’s 1969 version of a self-doubting prophet in Son of Man.
“It is quite simply inconceivable that the BBC in the 1970s or 80s or indeed the 90s would have (shown) a drama about Christ’s passion across BBC One’s primetime schedule.”
This comes from the leader of an organisation that is content to consign the Bible to Room 101 but would not do the same to the Qur’an – for fear of causing offence to Muslims. It is content to produce a documentary on Jesus from the perspective of Islam, but would not do the same for Mohammed - for fear of causing offence to Muslims. It is content to screen programmes about Christians converting to Islam, but has not dared to examine conversions from Islam to Christianity - for fear of causing offence to Muslims.
Perhaps Mr Thompson would like to address the plank in his own eye before presuming to lecture the nation’s broadcasters on the splinters in theirs. After all, as a publicly-funded body, the BBC has a moral obligation to lead the way.
Incidentally, what is Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor up to? The pulpit of Westminster Cathedral appears to have become a veritable secularist-ecumenical Hyde Park Corner: first he permits Tony Blair to talk of the importance of ‘faith’, while not being repentant in the slightest of the decade of profoundly anti-Christian legislation he swept in. And now he gives a platform to the Director General of the BBC, which has an admitted anti-Christian bias.
By comparison, His Eminence would find Cranmer a spiritual ally and a moral friend, and so he keenly looks forward to receiving his invitation to address the faithful…