Select Committee on Home Affairs Written Evidence

2. Supplementary memorandum submitted by the British Broadcasting Corporation

  Further to the oral evidence given by Mark Easton and Claire Powell last week, there were two areas where we were asked for additional notes.

  Firstly, the Chairman wanted more information on the question of our screening of "Jerry Springer: The Opera", in particular whether we would show anything which may cause offence to religions other than Christianity.

  What we decide to broadcast depends very much on quality and context. For example, we did not broadcast "Popetown" because it failed to pass the quality test. We do not feel that "Jerry Springer: The Opera" is blasphemous, though we recognise the potential for religious offence, hence the clear warnings that were given. It is inevitable that in Britain artists, writers and authors are currently more likely to depict or reflect themes which derive from our Judaeo-Christian heritage and culture. But that may well change as writers emerge from other faith traditions. The test of what we broadcast will always depend on the merit of their work. We exist to bring the best of British talent to British audiences.

  Given that the BBC broadcasts many hours of material every year reflecting the beliefs, worship and activities of the major religious traditions, including evangelical Christianity, we would not accept that evangelical Christians are either marginalised or vulnerable.

  Mr Taylor wanted to know about the rules governing the coverage of arrests under the Terrorism Act. There are no different rules for reporting arrests under the Terrorism Act. We obey the same contempt rules as for all other potential offences.

17 January 2005

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