FaithWorld

Church of England laments drop in UK religious TV programmes

A shopper looks at televisions in central London 2 March 2005/Toby Melville

A shopper looks at televisions in central London 2 March 2005/Toby Melville

The Church of England voted on Wednesday to express “deep concern” about a drop in religious programmes on British television but drew back from solely targeting the BBC for criticism.

The Church’s General Synod, or parliament, had been asked by one of its members to pinpoint the publicly funded BBC for marginalising religion and treating religious shows on its non-core channels as “freak shows..”

But the synod instead voted on an amendment which expressed its “deep concern about the overall reduction in religious broadcasting across British television in recent years.” The member, Nigel Holmes, a former BBC producer, brought a private motion accusing the BBC of preferring natural history and gardening programmes to religious output, saying some in broadcasting assumed that religion lost audiences.

Last year, it completely ignored the Christian significance of Good Friday, one of the holiest days in the Church’s calendar, he said. You can read the whole story here.

What’s it like in your country? Do the major broadcasters treat religious programming as “freak shows?”

Discussing the veil ban on France24, BBC World TV

Being an English-speaking religion editor in Paris these days means being invited to try to explain the story to foreign audiences. Here are videos from BBC World Television today, after a parliamentary report on face veils was issued, and from a France24 television debate broadcast last Thursday but only just posted on its website yesterday. Apart from explaining my analysis of the issue, both show why I didn’t go into television!

France24‘s site has no “share” option so click on the images to open the France24 page and watch the videos.

france24politics001

france24politics002

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France24 TV airs “Ramadan in France” series in English

Volunteers distribute soup at Paris Ramadan soup kitchen, 12 Sept 2008/Benoit Tessier

The France24 satellite television channel has put out an interesting series in English on Ramadan in France, home to Europe’s largest Muslim minority. According to a survey just published, 70% of Muslims polled here said they would fast during the Islamic holy month now underway and only 20% said they would not. The rest said they would fast partially or gave no answer.

Former Paris staffer Brian Rohan (now in Berlin) visited a Ramadan soup kitchen in Paris last year for a Reuters feature illustrated by the photo above taken by Benoit Tessier.

Here are links to the France24 videos:

* Ramadan in France: a guide

* Ramadan in France, behind closed doors

* Free meals, despite the crisis

* Muslims in Europe: transforming the continent?

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Turkish TV gameshow looks to convert atheists

game-showGiven the popularity of glitzy television gameshows of all sorts, it was probably inevitable that some secular channel somewhere one would come up with one about religion. Turkey’s Kanal T television station now has.

Its show, entitled “Penitents Compete,” will bring together spiritual guides from Islam, Christianity, Judaism and Buddhism who try to convert a group of non-believers. Those who get religion win a pilgrimage to a holy site of the faith they’ve chosen — Mecca for Muslims, the Vatican for Christians, Jerusalem for Jews and Tibet for Buddhists.

But the show, due to debut in September, has run into some unexpected trouble. The religious authorities in Muslim but secular Turkey have refused to provide an imam for the show, which they say will cheapen religion. Read the whole story here.

Al-Azhar plans satellite television channel about Islam

azhar-sheikhDressed in his robe and turban, Sheikh Khaled Al-Guindy sits in the plush offices of the main benefactor of his new satellite television channel and speaks about how modern technology can be turned to service for Islam. The al-Azhar scholar, who in 2000 launched a phone-in service for Muslims seeking religious guidance, is one of the founders of Azhari, a 24-hour channel due to launch on the first day of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which this year will start in mid-August. Read my interview with him here. (Photo:Sheikh Khaled Al-Guindy, 31 May 2009/Tarek Mostafa)

The channel will be broadcast on both main satellite channels operating in Egypt and will be accessible worldwide. It will initially transmit in Arabic with some English and French programming and there are plans to add content later in Urdu and Turkish. Azhari received its initial 15 million Egyptian pounds funding from a Libyan businessman and philathropist, Hassan Tatanaki.

Guindy told Reuters the plan really got going about a month ago, when he officiated at the wedding of Tatanaki’s daughter. “The father of the bride and I forgot completely about that wedding and started to talk about a new wedding, about how to introduce this new channel to the rest of the world,” he said.