An interview with the BBC’s Director-General, Mark Thompson, was recently posted online by the Free Speech Debate, a research project at Oxford University.
In the interview Mr Thompson claimed Christianity is treated with far less sensitivity than other religions because it is ‘pretty broad shouldered’. He revealed that producers had to consider the possibilities of ‘violent threats’ instead of polite complaints if they pushed ahead with certain types of satire.
“Without question, ‘I complain in the strongest possible terms’, is different from, ‘I complain in the strongest possible terms and I am loading my AK47 as I write’,” he said. “This definitely raises the stakes” said Mr Thompson.
These remarks should concern everyone – not just Christians. The work we do at Mediawatch benefits those of all faiths and none and we should all be concerned if this is how decisions about broadcasting content are being made.
Children being fed a broadcast diet of degrading behaviour models, inappropriate sexual content and graphic depictions of brutality and violence are unlikely to make violent complaints but the values broadcasters inculcate are undermining cohesion and stability in our society. There may not be violent protests outside Broadcasting House but the results of this play themselves out in our increasingly fractured society.
In the whole debate about the state of our society the media is no innocent bystander.