Responding to distinguished Hindu statesman Rajan Zed’s complaint “Hindus seek fairness in programming at BBC”, British Broadcasting Corporation states that “our aim is to be fully inclusive”.
Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, in an email to BBC Trust Chairman Rona Fairhead few days back, urged BBC to broadcast more Hindu programs, dedicating more hours to Hinduism.
Responding to the complaint, David Larner, Complaints Advisor, BBC Audience Services, wrote in an email received today: “Contrary to what has been reported in some quarters, we are actually intending to do more religious programming overall in the future, that being more programmes around Christianity and more on other faiths as well.”
“That being the case, there is absolutely no question of an ‘either/or’ situation in relation to our future religious output whereby one particular faith or belief is not reflected – our aim is to be fully inclusive”, Larner added.
According to a recent report in The Sunday Times, “The BBC is too Christian in its religious output, according to an internal review, and should increase its Muslim, Hindu and Sikh programming”.
Rajan Zed had urged BBC Director-General Lord Tony Hall to seriously and honestly look into this and increase broadcasting of Hinduism related programs and issues substantially on BBC TV, radio and online.
Hinduism was highly underserved at BBC, Zed stressed.
Rajan Zed had pointed out in the complaint that multi-culturalism had been fast growing in United Kingdom (UK) and it was now a diverse society formed of various religions and denominations and non-believers, but BBC had not kept pace with it. Hindus deserved more airtime at BBC and live aarti broadcasts from major Hindu temples in UK should regularly feature in BBC schedules. It was time for the disproportionate religious output at BBC to end, giving way to evenly distributed time among various religions/denominations/non-believers.
BBC should also ensure adequate coverage of Diwali, Holi, Krishna Janmashtami, Maha Shivaratri, Ram Navami, Ganesha Chaturthi, Navaratri, Duserra, Hanuman Jayanti, Makar Sankranti, Yugadi and other Hindu festivals, Zed had added.
Hymns from ancient Sanskrit scriptures, contemporary bhajans and Hindu sermons should regularly form part of BBC One’s about 53 years old “Songs of Praise” program, one of the world’s longest-running religious television series. Hindu hymns, songs and faith stories were also highly inspiring, warm and engaging; and moreover, God liked all songs-of-praise, irrespective of the religion these came from, Rajan Zed had indicated.
Zed had noted that BBC, being “a public service broadcaster funded by the license fee paid by UK households”, including the Hindu households, should have been more responsible and inclusive in its religious programming. It should not ignore “other” faiths in its content and productions, and across its various channels and services.
Rajan Zed had requested the intervention in this multi-faith issue of The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, whose “priorities” included “people, communities and nations learning to live together with deeply-held differences – in a spirit of love and respect”.
Zed stated that BBC; whose “values” included “celebrate our diversity” and “great things happen when we work together”; and whose “purpose” included “reflect the many communities that exist in the UK” and “reflect the different religious and other beliefs in the UK”; should show some maturity on this issue. BBC should take religion more seriously, and help us build interconnections and create harmony.
Rajan Zed had urged Fairhead to thoroughly investigate this matter as the Trust stated that “the license fee places a duty on the BBC to serve all audiences” and “our job is to get the best out of the BBC for license fee payers”.
BBC labeled “yoga” as “fad” in 2013. BBC also labeled Hindu festival of Holi as “filthy festival” in 2012 to which it apologized later. BBC has been blamed in the past for racism, imperialist stance, Indophobic bias, anti-Hindu bigotry, anti-American bias, etc.
Launched in October 1922, headquartered in London, and established by a Royal Charter; BBC claims to be the “world’s leading public service broadcaster”. Every UK viewer needs to have a TV License, which costs £145.50.
Hinduism, oldest and third largest religion in the world, has about one billion adherents and moksh (liberation) is its ultimate goal.