THROUGH THE ARCHIVES: Church levels criticism at BBC for programmes

From the News Letter, June 17, 1954

Thursday, 17th June 2021, 6:00 am
BBC Broadcasting House in Belfast
BBC Broadcasting House in Belfast

The General Synod of the Non-Subscribing Presbyterian Church, meeting in All Souls’ Church, Belfast, this week in 1954, passed a resolution stating that there was “excessive use other denominations of the secular programmes of the BBC” and that it had been decided that a public relations officer be appointed to “provide alternative expressions our faith and restore the balance, presented to the public.”

Mr Ivan Grainger of Holywood, moved the resolution, behalf the General Purposes Committee.

He said that the complaint he had against the BBC was not that their religious programmes had too much of one religion but that the “secular programmes were being abused.”

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Mr Grainger said: “There are continuous representations of religious subjects entering into the lay programmes and the news, very often one found a large boost for one particular denomination.”

Mr Grainger said he believed there were many people who held the same opinions as the members of the Non-Subscribing Presbyterian Church, “but did not get the support of this vast propaganda machine which Is now part of our whole life”.

He continued: “We should appoint a public relations officer to try to provide aspects Non- Subscribing Presbyterian ways simple faith which can appeal to the layman.”

The Reverend Stanley Peters of Holywood seconded the motion.

The Moderator (the Reverend John Radcliff of Downpatrick) said that the larger religions had a “pull with the BBC - naturally enough - because of their numbers. But he thought the feeling was that the Non-Subscribing Presbyterian Church’s point of view, “on purely secular matters, which fringed on morals and other issues, was not being presented to the full”.

He suggested that a public relations officer should submit material to the BBC about “the lives of distinguished people or some part of history” which exemplified “the over-flowing of their faith into life”.

It was agreed that the appointment of the public relations officer be made by the General Purposes Committee.

The Synod accepted a recommendation of the standing committee that ministers of the church should have a minimum salary of £450 a year, “with a free manse”.