The Church of Ireland Central Communications Board has made the following response (on 6 November 2018) to the review of BBC Editorial Guidelines. The guidelines are overseen by the BBC Editorial Policy unit in London and more information on the consultation is available here.
The Central Communications Board of the Church of Ireland welcomes the opportunity to make a submission as part of the consultation on the BBC’s draft Editorial Guidelines. In particular, we welcome the affirmation of standards in relation to harm, offence and safeguarding. All of these issues relate closely to human dignity and the general well–being of society.
We commend the BBC on continuing to provide a range of opportunities for religious affairs broadcasting and recognise that value of this programming to society. Further, the Central Communications Board welcomes the commitment in the Editorial Guidelines to reflect, represent and serve the diverse communities of the UK’s nations and regions.
Children and Young People as Contributors (section 9.3.20)
The recognition of the potential negative impact of social media, smartphones, and 24–hours news streaming services is important for ensuring the well–being of children and young people and also wider society, as the potential speed and intensity of news and other content is now greater than before.
War, Terror and Emergencies (sections 11.1 & 11.3.4)
The Central Communications Board welcomes the further affirmation of dignity and well–being in the guidance to protect individuals from the risk of additional harm or cause unnecessary distress, when conflicts and emergency situations are being reported.
Harm and Offence (section 5.3.34)
The guidance to avoid causing casual offence without due consideration in relation to religious beliefs is also welcome. While we commend the increasing standard of quality in drama productions broadcast by the BBC, we are disturbed by the escalation in – and ambivalence towards – the use of severely explicit language and blasphemy (including the misuse of the name of Jesus Christ) in entertainment programmes and ask that the deep offence that can be caused in this way to people of faith be considered by programme–makers.