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Mar 9 2005
BBC 'will not bow to the religious extremists'

BBC 'will not bow to the religious extremists'

By Jonathan Petre, Religion Correspondent,

(Filed: 09/03/2005)

Mark Thompson, the BBC director general, has warned against the growing power of "extremist" religious groups after the campaign against last month's broadcast of Jerry Springer: The Opera.

Mr Thompson, who is a Christian, argued that the corporation must stand up for the "widest range of ideas" in the face of increased pressure from lobby groups.

In the annual Livery Lecture at Stationers' Hall, London, he said the decision to screen a recording of the West End musical, which features a nappy-wearing Jesus who admits being a "little bit gay", was "both right and important".

Defending the right of the BBC to screen controversial programmes, he said: "This openness, along with the wider openness of our whole society, is under threat.

"The voices of those who would wish to limit it seem to be getting more strident. Small pressure groups can use modern communications tools to give a false impression of size and weight."

In the lecture on Monday night, Mr Thompson said that "rage and extremism" appeared to be coming closer to the surface.

However, he also admitted that the corporation must do more to "connect" with Christians.

"The BBC is not here to promote a secular world view as opposed to a religious one, or so-called progressive values over traditional ones, but rather to give voice and space to a full range of perspectives," he said.

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