Page last updated at 00:34 GMT, Sunday, 29 March 2009

Archbishop voices concerns to BBC

Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams
Dr Rowan Williams held a private meeting with the BBC director general

The Archbishop of Canterbury has urged the BBC not to neglect Christians in its religious programming.

Dr Rowan Williams voiced his concern to the corporation's director general Mark Thompson in a private meeting at Lambeth Palace.

The archbishop is said to be concerned at a decline in religious programming on the BBC World Service.

A BBC spokesman said the corporation's commitment to religion and ethics was "unequivocal and entirely safe".

'Public service'

Christina Rees, a member of the Church of England's executive body, the Archbishops' Council, said: "The established Church has a special role in the country. We actually have a remit for everyone in the whole country.

"The BBC is a public service corporation. It is funded by licence payers and part of the broadcaster's duty is to represent the population. If it ignored Christians and the church it would be negligent."

A Lambeth Palace spokeswoman said she could not comment on a private meeting.

The BBC spokesman said: "The BBC is committed to maintaining a high level of specialism in the Religion and Ethics department - we currently have many staff with theology degrees and expertise.

"We are also currently exploring new ways to strengthen our connections with religious organisations.

"The story for Religion and Ethics at the BBC is a positive one and we hope that church members will be reassured."

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