BBC scraps Radio 4 religious programme Something Understood due to budget cuts

Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings. “They shouldn’t have cancelled it, they should have made it primetime. It was held back by its scheduling. As an outsider, it seems a sad one to cut.”The Revd Malcolm Doney, a frequent contributor to the programme, said it had an appeal beyond regular worshippers. “The people I know that listen to it often aren’t card-carrying Christians, but agnostics and even out-and-out atheists. It’s the best of radio because it is thoughtful and surprising.“When people don’t do church-organised religion, this is a rare jewel of an opportunity for them. Even though it occupies only 30 minutes of radio, it feels like more.”The BBC insisted it has plans to “increase the ambition of religious programmes” on the network. It has designated 2019 as the “Year of Beliefs”.Ofcom recently introduced a quota of at least 115 hours of religious programmes across BBC One and BBC Two, stipulating that some must be in peaktime, but no such quota exists for radio.A BBC spokesperson said the corporation produces over 7,000 hours of religion every year across TV and Radio, with much of that on radio.The spokesperson added: “It is wrong to judge the entirety of the BBC’s religious output on one decision to broadcast archive episodes of Something Understood in 2019/20 instead of commissioning a new series, when no decisions have been made beyond that and the reality is that we are doing more overall in the year ahead with a big season of religious programming. “In our religion review we made it clear we want to do more about Christianity as well as other beliefs, and increase the scale and ambition of religious programming as audiences said they wanted.” The BBC’s commitment to religious programming is being questioned after it announced plans to decommission Something Understood, the Radio 4 show that has run for 23 years.From April next year, the regular weekly slot will be filled with repeats of old programmes and no new content will be made.The corporation blamed budget cuts, saying: “The BBC continues to face significant financial challenges, and has to save £800 million by 2012; so Radio 4, like the rest of BBC Radio, has to make tough choices.“We’ve broadcast Something Understood for nearly 24 years, and we know the decision to no longer make this programme will disappoint our audience.“But we have a full and rich back catalogue of the programme, and we propose to fill the schedule with the best of the archive for the foreseeable future.”The programme has many loyal listeners despite its 6.05am Sunday time slot, with a repeat at 11.30pm.The decision was made despite a recent BBC review which concluded: “We want to do more to help people understand the role of Christianity in today’s world, and more to understand other faiths and beliefs as well.”Something Understood explores ethical and faith issues. Critics of the decision to axe it include The Revd Robin Griffith-Jones, Master of the Temple Church in the City of London, who told the Church Times: “It is an unfailing thoughtful, measured programme that covers a wide range of topics with grace. read more

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