John Arnold, Lead Bishop for Communications, raises concerns about new Media Bill

Ahead of the second reading of the new Media Bill in the House of Lords on the 28th February, Bishop John Arnold, Lead Bishop for Communications, has written to the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport expressing concerns about the impact the Bill could have on religious broadcasting.

The Communications Bill of 2003 had obligations for public service broadcasters (PSBs) to provide programmes about religion or belief, but the new Media Bill which will replace it does not have this requirement, leading to fear that religious programming will die out.

Bishop John wrote to Lucy Frazer explaining that he thought the loss of these obligations was dangerous when still so much of the country is motivated by religious beliefs, as well as much of the world’s population.

According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), published in 2021, almost half of the UK population are Christian (27.5 million), and another 6.5 million declare a religious belief.

According to Bishop John, in an increasingly multicultural and multireligious country, religious broadcasting is crucial to creating harmony amongst different communities and promoting a deeper mutual understanding.

The bishop also said that religious literacy is increasingly important as recent events have shown that human action is still shaped and motivated by religion and religious identity. He argued that, in this context, it was a bad time to be allowing religious broadcasting to die out.

He finished saying that religious broadcasting raises awareness of diversity, challenges stereotypes, improves understanding of different cultures and traditions throughout the world, and therefore removing protections is misguided.

Image: ©Marcin Mazur/CBCEW