BBC doesn’t cover religious issues fully, says former religion editor

The BBC’s former head of Religious Broadcasting has criticized the group for not covering enough religious issues and “questioning authority”.

rnie Rea, who recently retired from presenting BBC Radio 4’s Beyond Belief religious discussion program after two decades, was previously head of corporate religion for 12 years.

The 77-year-old spoke about the BBC’s current coverage of religious issues based on 2021 census figures released this week, which showed for the first time people in the UK and Wales identifying as Christians has dropped to less than half.


Ernie Rea retired after two decades presenting Radio 4’s Beyond Belief religious talk show (Catherine Yang/BBC/PA)

Speaking on Roger Bolton’s Beeb Watch political podcast, Rea said: “Obviously the BBC should cover it, should explore it, should criticize it.

“It should be part of questioning to take power, but it doesn’t do that.”

He also criticized the broadcaster for broadcasting religious news to TV in the 1990s, though he added that he had been away from that company for 20 years.

He said: “When I was chief of religious radio, I never had any problems with the radio operators. Many of them were agnostics or even atheists but I remember having conversations with the hosts of Radio 2, Radio 3 and Radio 4 and very often I was turned down their program commissions. me.

“But I always felt like I had a fair hearing, I never thought I was fired just because it was a religious issue. It is the complete opposite of television.

It’s perfectly clear that the BBC should cover it, should explore it, should criticize itErnie Rea

“As early as the 90s, BBC broadcasters were people of secular color, and because at that time the competition became much fiercer, the need for an audience kindness is absolutely their top priority.

“I walked out of those meetings completely disappointed, not because my ideas were rejected because they weren’t good enough, but because I didn’t get a fair hearing.”

Rea recalls a time in the early 1990s when he proposed a series of films about Islam in the UK but was turned down by a controller, who allegedly said “I can’t imagine anyone care about that.”

“You look back on that and there’s an intellectual arrogance about it, to the point where it’s almost breathtaking,” says Rea.

“So there’s a difference between radio and television and although I haven’t used it for 20 years, I think that distinction probably still applies.”

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Bolton and Rea also discussed when podcast host Bolton, a religious man, applied to replace Rea as Head of Religious Broadcasting but the position was taken by a theorist. agnostic.

Rea said: ‘The person who got the job was an excellent producer but I thought to myself, would the BBC appoint a head of the sports department who thinks sport is trash.

“Would they appoint a head of science (for) someone who doesn’t believe in evolution.

“But they’re going to appoint a religious head who isn’t committed to the actual project and I think that’s amazing.”

The BBC has been contacted for comment. BBC doesn’t cover religious issues fully, says former religion editor

Fry Electronics Team

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