Record Christian Complaints Rejected as BBC’s Springer Show is Cleared

Ofcom, the broadcasting regulator has rejected calls from a record 16,000 complaints over BBC’s broadcasting of Jerry Springer – The Opera. It was ruled upon that the BBC’s broadcast was not unreasonably offensive to Christians, but was simply a "moral" satire on the excesses of television.

The ruling has been made at a time when BBC’s own governors have criticised the corporation for reducing the amount of religious programming, and for failing to implement new ways in which to engage with viewers.

In response to the escalating criticism regarding BBC’s projection of religion, a panel will this week be called together to address a BBC seminar asking how religious issues can better be represented. The panel will consist of representatives from many various faiths who will aim to give the corporation a greater insight to what viewers may want and what is wanted by faith groups.

In total, it was reported that BBC 2’s showing of Jerry Springer – The Opera received 7,941 complaints even before it was aired. In addition to these, there were also 8,860 sent after broadcasting of the show.

Ofcom’s ruling stated, "The level was unprecedented . . . and appears to have been the first large-scale internet campaign to Ofcom on any broadcasting issue."

A number of complaints were said to have been offended that the BBC had seemingly set out to mock Christian beliefs. The Times newspaper reported that complaints cited some of the following as things that offended them: "swear words alongside references to God and Jesus; Eve putting her hand under Jesus’ loincloth; the suggestion that Jesus was gay; and the re-enactment of the Crucifixion".

However, the Ofcom ruling stated that the show "addressed moral issues in the context of a contemporary setting."

It also said that the show’s effect "was to satirise modern fame and the culture of celebrity."

Earlier this week, BBC’s governors reported that a previous announcement to create new "high quality, wide impact" religious shows on BBC 1 had not been acted upon.

In 2003-2004 the channel broadcast just 87 hours of religious programming, declining from 101 hours which was recorded the year before.