Page last updated at 09:30 GMT, Wednesday, 26 May 2010 10:30 UK

BBC TV 'sees religion as tiresome obligation'

Carol singing at Kings College, Cambridge
A religious perspective on other areas of news was needed, it was argued

Religious coverage is seen as a "rather tiresome obligation" by "secular and sceptical" BBC television staff, a Radio 4 broadcaster has said.

Roger Bolton called for the appointment of a BBC religion editor to improve coverage of faith matters.

He was speaking at the Sandford St Martin Trust awards for religious programmes, for which he was chairman of the judges.

The BBC said its commitment to religion broadcasting was "unequivocal".

Mr Bolton, who presents BBC Radio 4's Feedback programme, told the London ceremony that a religious perspective was often "bafflingly absent" both on air and in editorial discussions behind the scenes.

A BBC spokeswoman said there was "no downward trend in our religion and ethics television output".

She said there had been more than 160 hours of coverage last year, and there was increased investment this year in BBC One programming on major religious festivals.

"BBC News and Current Affairs has a dedicated religion correspondent, and topical religious and ethical affairs stories are featured across all our BBC networks," she said.

'In-house knowledge'

A Church of England spokesman said there was "much to be celebrated" in the BBC's religious output.

But he added: "We have consistently called for the corporation to devote appropriate resources to ensuring high-quality provision of content reflecting and exploring religion across the breadth of its output, including news and current affairs.

"Developing sufficient in-house knowledge in a topic as important to society as religion and ethics is critical to meeting this demand, which is shared by people of all faiths and none."

Earlier this year, the Church of England's general synod expressed "deep concern" at a perceived cut in religious programming by mainstream broadcasters.

It called for more programming that "imaginatively marks major festivals".

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