Joint Committee on The Draft Communications Bill Minutes of Evidence

Note by the Bill Team on the Guidelines for Religious Ownership

  1.  Religious bodies can not hold a licence to provide a national radio service, a national or local radio multiplex service, national or local digital sound programme services, or digital additional services.

  2.  The Authority will apply the following principles when determining whether it considers it appropriate for religious bodies or persons (as defined in Paragraph 2(1)(a) of Part II) to hold a licence granted by the Authority (other than those licences specified in the previous paragraph):

  (a)  whether, in the view of the Authority, the body or person would be able to adhere to the Authority's programme and advertising and sponsorship codes, and

  (b)  whether, in the view of the Authority, the current aims or practices of the body or person are compatible with the Authority's News & Current Affairs and Programme Code, and Advertising & Sponsorship Code. The Authority will treat those who practise or advocate illegal behaviour, or whose rites or other forms of collective observance are not normally directly accessible to the general public, as acting in such a way as to be incompatible with the Authority's codes.

  3.  Religious applicants for a radio licence will be required to supply detailed information about their aims and objectives, and a statement of belief.

  4.  The Authority will seek advice, as necessary, if there is any doubt about the credentials of a religious body applying to hold a licence.


  The definition of a disqualified person (in respect of religious bodies) is set out in paragraph 2 of Part II of Schedule 2 to the Broadcasting Act 1990. The Committee may find it helpful to look at the guidance as to its application, which is given by the Radio Authority in their Ownership Guidelines (see paragraphs 3.19—3.21 enclosed). Clearly, the meaning of the provisions would ultimately be a matter for the Courts to determine.

Extract from the Radio Authority's "Ownership Guidelines" January 2002.

  Religious Bodies (Paragraph 2 of Part II) and the Authority's Guidelines for Religious Ownership.


  3.19 Under paragraph 2(1)of Part II, religious bodies are not permitted o hold any licence granted by the Authority. However, the Authority is empowered under paragraph 2(2)of Part II to make a determination that it is satisfied that it is appropriate for a religious body to hold a licence (with he exception of the types of licence set out in Guideline (1)in the text box below).As long as the determination remains in force, the religious body in question will be permitted o hold hat licence. The principles o be applied by he Authority in making such a determination are set out in Guidelines (2)—(4) in the text box below.


  3.20 A religious body is a body whose objects are wholly or mainly of a religious nature (paragraph 2(1)(a)).

  3.21 The disqualification of religious bodies also applies to:

  (i)  a body which is controlled by a religious body or by two or more religious

bodies taken together (paragraph 2(1)(b));

  (ii)  a body which controls a religious body (paragraph 2(1)(c));

  (iii)  a company which is associated with a religious body, or with a body controlled by a religious body or by two or more religious bodies taken together, or with a body which controls a religious body (paragraph 2(1)(d));

  (iv)  a company in which any body falling within (i) to (iii)of the above is a participant with more than a 5 per cent interest (paragraph 2(1)(e));

  (v)  an individual who is an officer of a religious body, or a body which is controlled by such an individual or by two or more such individuals taken together (paragraph 2(1)(f)and (g)).

June 2002


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