Representatives of faith communities have told Parliamentarians that faith does not figure sufficiently in BBC programmes and services.
Their statements came in oral evidence to the House of Lords Select Committee on the BBC Charter Review yesterday (Tuesday) on the coverage of faith and the role of religious broadcasting.
The hearing formed part of the Select Committee's inquiry into specific areas of the BBC including religious, sporting and regional broadcasting and the BBC World Service.
The statements by the group of broadcasters - chaired by the Bishop of Southwark, the Rt Revd Tom Butler - fly in the face of comments made by the BBC's Director General in June.
In a speech to the Churches' Media Conference, Mark Thompson, himself a Christian, urged Christians to move beyond old arguments that faith did not figure sufficiently in BBC programmes and services.
In a shot across the bows of those who feel that religion is being marginalized in broadcasting, most notably those who focus on 'entitlements' to religious slots, the Director General urged Christians to be more creative and 'subversive' in their broadcasting approaches. He suggested that they focus more broadly on mainstream media programming rather than narrow religious slots.
Mark Thompson also pointed out that religion was often at the forefront of broadcasting with acts of Christian worship being broadcast every week on TV and Radio, religious prime time slots such as 'Thought for the Day' on Radio 4, and documentaries such as BBC 2's The Monastery.
However, in their evidence to the House of Lords Select Committee the representatives of the Christian, Muslim, Hindu and Sikh faiths stressed the importance of Religion 'as part of the fabric of life' shown in BBC programmes, a proper reflection of religion in news, and dedicated religious broadcasting.
The representatives from the faith communities urged the Select Committee for a formal public service commitment to the fair reflection of religion in broadcasting, across the output, not just in religious programmes. It also called for wording in the Agreement accompanying the Charter that provides a commitment to delivering the fair and accurate reflection of religion in broadcasting, across the output not just in religious programmes, properly resourced, and that mechanisms of real accountability to deliver this are put in place.