Monday 27 April 2009

BBC "Thought for the Day" Complaint.

Evidently my earlier hopes that change might be on the way were not justified as far as "Thought for the Day" is concerned. I have now had a reply from Tim Davie, Director of Audio & Music. This response represents the second stage in the BBC Complaints procedure and leaves the door open to  an appeal to the BBC Trust. 

In the following analysis, quotes from Mr Davie's letter are italicised:-

Mark Damazer was expressing the views of the BBC in his letter, and I stand by those views.

This is puzzling. I complain to the BBC about a specific aspect of its editorial policy and  get  replies from employees who merely state they support the policy. Could they be expected to do anything else? It  poses the question of who creates the policy and why the complaint was not referred to them for consideration?

"contributors to Thought for the Day are chosen to balance voices from different Christian denominations and other religions with significant membership in the UK. "

Yes, we do know this. What relevance does this statement have to the essence of a complaint about  the omission of  the humanist viewpoint from TftD broadcasts.

"Speakers are expected to make brief references to their faith and its scriptures, but are not permitted to proselytise on behalf of their religion or disparage other religions."

Again this seems hardly relevant unless Mr Davie is suggesting that the  inclusion of the humanist viewpoint would, by its very nature, be  potent enough  to amount to proselytisation and disparagement of other religions .

"While debates like these are often finely balanced, I don't believe that carrying Thought for the Day in the Today programme contravenes the BBC's editorial guidelines on bias and impatiality."

Like Mark Damazer, Mr Davie does not produce any detailed reasoning as to how the TftD programming meets the BBC's own guidelines on balance but merely asserts that it does so. 

He then goes on list  the BBC's other religious output in which "atheists,  humanists and secularists are regularly heard, and religious leaders are questioned and challenged." Again this may be so but we are complaining about the privilege accorded  the religious outlook in  the Today programme. 

"And of course non-religious voices are also heard extensively across the general output . .". 

Well the situation could hardly be otherwise. This statement is almost fatuous.


  1. At least you're getting them to think about this issue.

  2. Reponses from the BBC are always so bland. And they never seem to be able to admit that they may just be wrong and say, Hey, we'll think about that; you raise some good points. My thoughts on thoughts, for what they're worth, are that a thought should not have to be bolstered by the thinker's religion. Thoughts coming from all persuasions would strengthen the slot's raison d'être. But, then, the BBC is run by bureaucrats who, true to bureaucracy, don't want to rock any boats or upset the Establishment.

  3. Thanks for that Andy. I shall press on.