Factsheet 1966: Religion on Independent Television 

20 September 2018 tbs.pm/66542

Religious programmes on Independent Television occupy about three hours a week, 5 per cent of broadcasting time. This is three times the amount broadcast in 1956 and half an hour a week more than in 1959. The main body of religious broadcasts is concentrated in the period between 6.15 p.m. and 7.25 p.m. on Sunday evenings. The regulations on hours of broadcasting laid down by the Postmaster-General provide that there shall be no normal broadcasting at this time, but this prohibition does not apply to some specified types of programme, of which religion is one.

The Sunday evening group of religious programmes is divided into three parts. One part is designed for children, one part treats serious subjects in an adult fashion, and one part is devoted to religious music. These, together with the regular Sunday morning services, the nightly Epilogues and special programmes to mark the main Christian festivals, make up the output of religious broadcasts on Independent Television.

The programmes have several purposes. Some present the worship, work and thinking of the churches. Others present some aspect of the relationship of the Christian faith to living in the contemporary world. Yet others raise and consider basic questions that are important to all men, be they churchmen or not.

The Television Act of 1964 lays down that no religious service or propaganda relating to matters of a religious nature may be included in any programme without the prior approval of the Authority. The Act further provides that the Authority shall appoint or arrange for the assistance of a committee representative of the main streams of religious thought in the United Kingdom, the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands, to give advice in relation to matters of a religious nature.

For guidance on general policy the Authority, like the BBC, relies on the Central Religious Advisory Committee. To assist it in the day to day discharge of its responsibilities the Authority has appointed a Panel of Religious Advisers, the six members representing the Church of England, the Free Churches, the Roman Catholic Church and the Churches in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. A separate committee in Scotland assists the Scottish Member of the Panel.



Each of the programme companies responsible for the production of religious programmes also has its own group of advisers, usually representing the three main groups in the Christian Church. These advisers help the companies in the preparation of programme plans for submission to the Authority for approval. In considering these plans, the Authority takes the advice of its Panel of Religious Advisers, who are themselves guided by the policy recommendations of the Central Religious Advisory Committee, and acts accordingly.


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