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Last Updated: Friday, 2 March 2007, 11:01 GMT
Church condemns 'humiliation TV'
Jade Goody
Jade Goody is visiting India following allegations of racism
TV shows like Big Brother and Little Britain can "exploit the humiliation of human beings for public entertainment", the Church of England has warned.

The Church's General Synod, meeting in London, voted unanimously to express concerns over TV standards.

Reverend Richard Moy, from Lichfield, called on the government to investigate the impact of TV on public behaviour.

But Reverend Stephen Lynas, from Bath, praised the media, saying: "For every Jade Goody, there is a Sister Wendy."

He added: "Big Brother is pretty awful but nobody has died yet. There is much in the media that enhances us."

Synod
The General Synod is the ruling body of the Church of England
The Synod - the ruling body of the Church of England - stressed it was "not an attack on the media" but a call for a "proper debate" on standards.

Little Britain was singled out for criticism because the Vicky Pollard character makes fun of the way some teenage girls speak.

Strictly Come Dancing was also mentioned because its knock-out stages focus on losers.

A BBC spokeswoman for the show said she was surprised it had been commented on.

"We welcome debate and discussions about our programmes but are surprised that the Church has chosen to focus on Strictly Come Dancing," she said.

She described the Saturday evening programme as "wholesome entertainment" and pointed out that it had made "milllions of pounds for the BBC charity Children in Need".

"We would have thought the Church would welcome this sort of show," she added.

The Synod also heard claims that the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) was "making pornography easier to access by giving hardcore material 18 certificates".

Speaking at the debate, former BBFC president Andreas Whittam Smith defended passing two sexually explicit and violent films - Baise-Moi and Intimacy - with 18 certificates.

He told the Synod: "However they were marred by their sexually explicit content, they had something to say.

"Public taste is always slowly shifting, very smoothly and slowly," he said, adding that it was not the regulators' job to influence standards of decency.

"It is only the Church's teaching in general which can have an influence and can change things."

Bishop Sentamu
The Archbishop of York John Sentamu turned down Big Brother
The Synod also discussed violence in video games and noted that there were no guidelines regulating sexually explicit content in printed media, including so-called "lad's mags" like Nuts and Zoo.

But Reverend Richard Moy noted that the Church was missing a trick by not tapping into modern-day communications such as podcasts - and even shows like Big Brother.

He said: "My only complaint with Channel 4 is that they did not think to have our Archbishop of York on Celebrity Big Brother," referring to the Ugandan-born Dr John Sentamu.

"Imagine how much use he would have been in the middle of the race row."

Dr Sentamu turned down the chance to appear on the latest edition of Celebrity Big Brother, his spokesman said in December.

The motion on Media Standards was proposed by the Bishop of Manchester, the Right Reverend Nigel McCulloch, and was carried by 217 votes to 0.

You can watch the Synod debate on the media in full on BBC Parliament at 1100GMT on Monday 12th March 2007.


SEE ALSO
BBC Parliament to screen Synod
02 Mar 07 |  BBC Parliament
'Stop moral decay' says Russell
24 Jan 07 |  South East Wales
Archbishop wades into Jade rumpus
20 Jan 07 |  North Yorkshire
Archbishop turns down Big Brother
20 Dec 06 |  North Yorkshire
Big Brother's history of bother
17 Jan 07 |  Entertainment
Big Brother offers 'role models'
22 Jun 05 |  Entertainment

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