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Last Updated: Tuesday, 7 October, 2003, 16:47 GMT 17:47 UK
Archbishop meets BBC over 'bias'
Roman Catholic Archbishop of Birmingham Vincent Nichols
Archbishop Nichols said talks would continue
The Roman Catholic archbishop of Birmingham, who has accused the BBC of anti-Catholic bias, has held talks with a senior BBC executive.

The Most Reverend Vincent Nichols said he had been listened to "courteously and in full" by BBC director of news, Richard Sambrook.

The archbishop said he would hold more talks with Mr Sambrook over the next few days.

Last week, Archbishop Nichols said parts of the news and current affairs department of the corporation appeared to view the Catholic Church with "hostility".

He singled out three forthcoming programmes as potentially offensive to Catholics: Kenyon Confronts, which investigates allegations of child abuse in the church; a Panorama documentary programme called Sex and the Holy City; and a BBC Three animated series Popetown, in which the Pope is caricatured.

'Deep disquiet'

In a statement, the archbishop said: "I was able to express the deep disquiet felt by so many Catholics and others at some aspects of BBC programmes with regard to religious belief in general and the Catholic Church in particular.

"I was given an undertaking that due consideration will be given to several points I raised about the proposed Kenyon Confronts programme."

The archbishop also complained about the timing of the Kenyon Confronts and Panorama programmes - to be shown in the same month as Pope John Paul II celebrates his 25th anniversary as pontiff and the beatification of Mother Teresa of Calcutta.

He said this displayed insensitivity towards Catholics.

Archbishop Nichols said he was given a "full and impressive" list of the BBC's programming schedules to mark the events. He called them "welcome initiatives".

'Constructive' talks

The BBC said the meeting between the archbishop and Mr Sambrook had been "positive and constructive".

In a statement, the corporation said the archbishop's concerns were being "considered at greater length".

Both parties would meet again over the next few months "to strengthen the relationship between the Catholic Church and the BBC", it added.


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