BBC’s Head of Religion and Ethics gives Communications Day Lecture

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The Future for Religious Broadcasting

Aaqil Ahmed
BBC Commissioning Editor for Religion and Head of Religion and Ethics

“Diversity of output is the future for Religious broadcasting” according to the BBC’s Head of Religion and Ethics, Aaqil Ahmed who delivered the annual World Communications Day Lecture at the Mount Street Jesuit Centre in central London last night (14 May).

The lecture was organised by the Church’s media office, the Catholic Communications Network, to celebrate World Communications Day in England and Wales. Aaqil Ahmed said:

“Our audiences are very diverse and we can’t expect to service all of them with the same output. We need to make programmes that interest the religious, the non-religious, the non-religious literate and the general viewer.” The BBC’s Head of Religion and Ethics shared his three-step strategy for ensuring that religion stays fresh and new at the BBC, addressing the big questions of the day.

He explained: “Research told me that people wanted to know more about the basics of religion, they wanted to know less about the conflict and more about its roots in history and theology. Hence projects such as How God made the English, The Bible’s Buried Secrets, Seven Wonders of Buddhism and Jerusalem: The making of a Holy City. They refresh the genre and fit into this thirst for knowledge”.

In Ahmed’s view, religion and ethics complement the news agenda. Yet there is still the evidence that religious programmes are of interest for their own sake, not for the sake of another news agenda. This explains why programmes like ‘Songs of Praise’ continue to run consistently for over 50 years and rate highly.

Previous World Communications Day speakers have included: Cardinal John Foley, respected journalist John Allen Jr, head of the Vatican Press Office Fr Federico Lombardi, BBC Trustee Jacquie Hughes and Archbishop Vincent Nichols.

Prior to the lecture, a Mass was celebrated in The Church Of The Immaculate Conception in Farm Street, Mayfair, by the Church’s media bishop, Archbishop George Stack of Cardiff.

World Communications Day is the day when Catholics are asked to reflect on the necessity of fulfilling the command of Jesus to preach the Good News of the Gospel to the whole world. A key to communicating with “the whole world” is engagement with the media and its demand for news relating to every aspect of the life of the Church and its people.


You can read or download the full text of Aaqil Ahmed’s lecture by clicking on the PDF in the top right-hand corner of this page.


World Communications Day 2012

Religion and Media in Multifaith Britain – An interview with Vatican Radio