Open Letter to The Times re: Media Bill Omissions


Religious literacy is more important than ever in today’s world. But the Media Bill, to be debated in the House of Lords on Wednesday, puts this core civic competency in peril by removing existing obligations for public service broadcasters to provide programming about religion or belief. We believe that to ignore religion is dangerous, as faith is a prime motivator of individuals and communities. What people believe informs political, economic, ethical and social behaviour. It inspires acts from the heinous to the heroic.

Broadcasting can help audiences to understand how religion affects human affairs, raise awareness of diversity, confront stereotypes and educate people about the world’s many rich cultures and traditions. Hence we urge the government to specify religion as a key component of the public service broadcasting remit, and to protect in its Media Bill programmes exploring religion and belief.

Aliya Azam, interfaith co-ordinator, Al-Khoei Foundation; Simon Barrow, director, Ekklesia; Steve Clarke, editor, Television Magazine, Royal Television Society; Rabbi Warren Elf, co-chair, Faith Network for Manchester; the Right Rev Sally Foster-Fulton, moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland; Dr Edward Kessler, director, Woolf Institute; Katie McColgan, chair, Interfaith Council for Wales; the Right Rev Beverley Mason, bishop of Warrington; Chine McDonald, director, Theos; Marilyn Priday, Community House Presbyterian Church of Wales; Dr Shaunaka Rishi Das, director, Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies; Elizabeth Slade, chief officer, General Assembly of Unitarian and Free Christian Churches; Professor Tony Stoller, chairman, The Sandford St Martin Trust; the Most Rev Mark Strange, Primus, Scottish Episcopal Church; the Most Reverend Leo Cushley, Archbishop of St Andrews & Edinburgh

This letter was published in The Times Letters to the Editor on Tuesday 27 February 2024, ahead of the second reading of the Media Bill in the House of Lords.

If you agree with us – that religious literacy and understanding what people believe matter more than ever – join us in urging the Government to amend the Media Bill to ensure religion remains a key component of the public service broadcasting remit – sign our petition today:

The Government’s Media Bill and proposed amends were the topic for discussion on recent episodes of All Things Considered with Sandford St Martin Trust Chair Dr Tony Stoller, and Roger Bolton’s Beeb Watch with Executive Director Anna McNamee – both available to listen online now.