Storkey calls on church and media to forge new relationship

The new Chair of the Church and Media Network has called for a new relationship between the church and media to make the most of the opportunities opening up in the digital age.

Dr Elaine Storkey welcomed the debate due to take place in the Church of England General Synod next week on the marginalisation of religious and ethical issues on mainstream TV.

“We need to recognise that the industry has changed and continues to change at a dizzying pace,” she said.

“I hope we will go beyond defensive self-interest. This is a time for prophetic and supportive voices.

“In this new digital media environment the Church needs to find fresh ways of working with the major broadcasters.”

Synod is set to debate a private member’s motion put forward by Nigel Holmes of Carlisle on Wednesday.

It calls upon the BBC and Ofcom to explain why British television, “which was once exemplary in its coverage of religious and ethical issues, now marginalises the few such programmes which remain and completely ignored the Christian significance of Good Friday 2009”.

The debate follows the Church of England's challenge to the BBC last December to develop television programming that would introduce audiences to an “authentic experience” of religious communities.

In a submission to the BBC Trust consultation on BBC television, the Church acknowledged the BBC’s high quality live coverage of public religious events like Remembrance Sunday and the installation of the new Archbishop of Westminster, but warned that the fall in the number of services being broadcast in the past decade could be regarded as a “lapse in the BBC delivering its public purposes”.

In a briefing paper issued to Synod members ahead of the debate, the Church and Media Network said the new digital environment offered “huge missional opportunities” and called on the church to find a “new positive mode of engagement”.

The network is to explore religion in the digital environment at this year’s Church and Media Conference in June.

Dr Storkey takes over from the Rev Dr Joel Edwards, who steps down after four years in the post.

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