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Keeping faith in the media…

BBC sounds music Radio podcasts from BBC Radio 4 don't hear you the show belongs to it's listeners and not least Mr Ken winter a few weeks ago.

He email me with a suggestion.

I'm all he said could I promise you to make a program on the religious press and in Britain well, can't we thought that was a tremendous idea so today we're going to do just that perfect day for it of course because it is a very busy time for producing or reporting on religion whatever you're not long till Passover Easter coming up course and later in the month.

We have Ramadan and we places worship closed because of coronavirus people of faith are turning to Religious broadcasters due to a very esteemed panel, Charmaine noble McLean is executive director at premier Christian Radio show me welcome to the show I've seen some of your stations will be scrolling through my dab.

Tell me have you guys got stations premier Christian Radio being the mothership if you call it that 25 years old national premier praise the music service and premier gospel serving London South East are you getting hold of her radio listening data? Have you noticed spiking in a list of feedback was biting ratings at all of the last 2-weeks increases in our online distance across the different stations of about 30% for each which is great as well Christianity which is a thinking person's magazine looking at matters of faith news culture and other things that one alive which is a woman's publication and using children's work which serves using children's workers in churches and outside as well as a full-on Media Empire is so premier is clearly one of the biggest Christian

Media organisations in the UK would you describe yourself as evangelical in Outlook but the very broad Christian church and Faith groups who are interested in what Christian Community has to say we have at unify anglicans Catholics right through to Pentecostal Free Church in terms of reflected in its so we are brought in in that theologically will probably more towards evangelical it with a small but you have an exclusive been anyway.

Ok very good, show me thank you Joseph hayat is the editor-in-chief at British Muslim TV Joseph you're broadcasting on sky Freeview YouTube has your scheduled changed during a pandemic having a song here today.

It's changed dramatically because of course now will try to serve those that are on lockdown sucking their homes and trying to serve all the needs of a broad spectrum of the

Absolutely ok and resource wise what are your plans for today? Then? You can have to scale them back because I'm guessing that would usually be the busiest time of the year for you to be operational in Ramadan and notably in the evenings.

Just after Maghrib prayers right the way through to Saturday when people of course begin to prepare to fast for the day.

We need to be life and this has been a very challenging time but luckily the technical members of the team have done everything they can to ensure that we have provisionally play, so what you going to do to get round this so we've already gone through the testing face effectively we have it.

Set up now.

So that the director of the program can effectively directed and produced from their location of the Talent and the presenters in their locations and of course a second playout server as in a backup as well, so it's going to be sending a lot around remote working and trying to keep everyone that the safety.

They should be on the show Richard Ferrer is the editor of Jewish News Richard making a very welcome return to the media show which should Jewish news of course a weekly newspaper Howard and emit force you to change your distribution stress you since then now facing the next pandemic.

We are having to ring back out of distribution routes.

Obviously and community community centres are shut people more towards the digital products so obviously advertisers and other concerned because they still value product and print advertising more than they do digital so there's nothing to do in terms of pruning and rethinking and the whole thing as circulation and distribution.

Are we having to do on a daily basis which is something we've never had to consider before I was going to do to a bottle.

Richard online and we're going to be pushed into areas that perhaps we were reluctantly accepting.

We had to look towards in the future, but disaster has fought a lot of people into a lot of drastic and Southern decisions.

We knew we were going to have to wean ourselves away from the old print product is going to have to happen eventually and I think we're probably going to have to make that jump sooner rather than later and of course the longer this goes on the Left the amount of papers were going to be able to distribute the more we going to have to seriously rethink current business model where the city as is going to snow any is there any prospect of Jewish News going to do any imminently? Yes, I think that we do distributes over still open and still showing big football.

There's an old age homes full of people that wouldn't ordinarily go digital so there is that sort of died in the war loyal audio.

We need to cater for but yeah, I think we could cut down.

I just reviews in terms of more than 50% this Martin is being the BBC's religious affairs correspondent 2016 before they're very high-profile roles on television and he was responsible as you're no 4 Summerbridge TVs biggest ever interviews.

I think it's fair to say Princess Diana Michael Jackson but Martin what I want to know is what it was like to meet another megastar, which was the Pope because you've met my future was the last few years here.

I've had the great privilege of travelling on the paper plane 4 times.

I've also been inside the Vatican twice and met with him personally use a very very first.

Yes absolutely he is a very humble committed to man.

It's easy to imagine that in a basilica.

That was built in the 16th century.

That's covered in gilded gold and the most beautiful paintings that are imaginable that he would be a man whose.

Absolutely delighted to you know enjoy the corridors of Status and power but in fact he sees himself very much as a humble shepherd of the flock one of the things.

He's finding it very difficult at the moment.

I understand is not being able to give his Wednesday audience when he comes out in two St Peter's Square kisses and embraces various people particularly people who are I was in st.

Peter's on one occasion last year and a member of a royal family went to visit him and the Vatican release some photographs and he looked fairly solid he didn't seem to be enjoying it on the following day.

I was on the days when he came out gave his Wednesday audience and his family and he was radiant as he greeted over 100 people this is an 83 year old man who lost part of one lung in his teenage years as a result of the respiratory problem so in many ways.

A remarkable man in that sense and yes, I have enjoyed meeting him and there's a traditionally him coming down and meeting the journalist on the people playing She's Not Afraid at all during this which is Martin let's start by looking at your role at the BBC if you don't mind that over half the population according to the last British social attitudes survey say that they have no religion is important that the BBC does have a religious affairs correspondent.

I think it would be tempting to regard this portfolio little bit like a specialist correspondent for lower League football or amateur rugby union.

It's easy to dismiss it as a specialist subject with limited reach and a dwindling audience but I think that would be to understand the role in its most limited and reductionist stick Manor in fact.

I think the role should encompass both the formal expression of religious affiliation those who are part of the major religions of the world.

The worldviews and spiritualities of all people in Contemporary Britain has a worldview that shapes the moral framework of Our Lives how we wish to bring up out to the extent to which we engage with community the kind of work.

We seek to do how we want to live our lives and these decisions are shaped by what could be called a spiritual or secular worldview and I think that's why this isn't a specialist subject because religious affairs could be described as the overarching definition if you like the meta narrative that you may apply to yourself.

So that could be Marxism existentialism secular humanism Sikhism being a member of a Greek Orthodox Church I think that's why it's significant and you use phone about your own Faith Martin do you think it's important to be religious to do your job? How does how do you balance religious faith of very poor?

As you have with the impartiality and the distance required for world-class journalism and which I don't think that it's necessary to have a religious faith in order to report on religion, but just as we wouldn't expect for example a cricket journalist to be an international cricketer and therefore you know we would say what they can't report laws or Islamabad or Bridgetown Barbados because they they haven't played first-class on the other hand one of the challenges.

I think we're facing could be described as declining religious literacy.

I had the privilege of providing the radio commentary from Westminster Abbey for that is storage service on Sunday November 11th 2018 100 years exactly to the end of hostilities during the First World War in researching.

And preparing for that.

I learnt that more than 90% of ratings soldiers between the ages of 16 and 20 had been to some form of Sunday school.

I wonder I'm all can you guess what number that figure is today of young soldiers aged between 16 and 20 who have been to Sunday school 15% x 5% It's less than 5% the number of students sitting A levels in religious studies in the UK has dropped by 25% since 2017 which I love these things that actually strengthens the case in your argument that the fact that we were doing it ever more a case for us having coverage of this stuff absolutely but also it's at a time when the nation has developed into a multiracial multi religious country, so while we have a widespread plethora of religious convictions that the level of understanding and the litter.

Ok, and that's why there's a necessity for this.

I think that was Charmaine Charmaine Obama cleaners premier show me spreading the Christian messages of course a key tenet of which we talked about are you all radio stations designed to convert more people to Christianity or are they serving existing Christmas you think only serves those who are regular attenders of church those who have a deep faith and a guess is there to have disciples them.

You know where you describe yourself as a church without walls and hear all the things you expect if you was going to a church and then we explored further through interviews with church leaders news from a Christian perspective.

You know there's an outward looking as well as inward looking voice that premier has that said we do have through premier praise and through and use not that we want to listen Sara Lee

Are actively seeking to convert but we will open the doors to people who are interested in things of spiritual matters searching for you.

Did you did you think yourself is being in the journalism trade in that just sent you want to report which needs extensive access supplies screwed apparently one of your messages princely promise in the message of the Bible entertaining people along the way for the issues that matter to our audiences.

We want to reveal where things are going wrong and also if things are going right.

So you know where we are looking with the Christians people going to try to have any place.

They are arranged in the world around them and that's what you want to try and bring to them absolutely one of your shows.

This is a recent episode of you're so unbelievable.

For today on the show we looking at antinatalism and asking should we let humans go extinct David Benatar and Bruce blackshaw, am I guess today so rather than a conversation for you as we hear about this philosophy of antinatalism proponents South African professor of philosophy David Benatar now and argue that it's a moral duty to stop having any children so that human-like dies out on the planet and talk to me the show was always designed to enable Christians to understand other worldviews and to have fun debate on issues, but fits out of mutual interest so you know we've talked to all sorts of people from all walks of wildlife and there have been some real fights in this conversation but was all designed so that.

Call audience understand rather than assume the views of other people for the face of the police chief of British Muslim TV what to do with a schedule on Muslim TV look like for all parts of the demographic but the TuneIn so we we start in the morning when the early hours with chronic recitation.

We then towards and at the moment because of the lockdown we have a faith in their fitness program at 9 to try and get people fit in awaken and Energize we transition towards some children's programmes and then we kind of the similar pattern at the mainstream channels do so we have a magazine program centred around a female magazine programme.

We then have a magazine lifestyle program centred around the Arts and culture and as we transition towards the the afternoon in the evening we have much more current affairs content and also the RC Allen segment where we actually get our viewers the opportunity to engage with an imam.

Mirror the the the the the undulations in the rhythm if you like a conventional broadcast you have a safe traditional peak time as the daytime you mentioned faith in fitness.

This is a clip from one of your shows which is that the one you mentioned that this is have listened to this Sunday that we have to stay healthy and with the health and safety and will give you the tools to do just add you back in and down going on I need to tune into that I need to lose some weight and that is a hell of a way to lose some weight and get fit and get on with the hadith at the same time Joseph

To lose weight being locked in a minute jokes aside.

You're absolutely right.

It's all about trying to engage with what is the trend in the community and that is effective leader of the British population is largely under 35.

We need to engage at their level and we need to make sure that was having a need so we have a review of diversity panel that meets and actually dictates kind of what needs to be the focus and the needs of that all ok since you say you missed the two words that one of our favourite was on this thing about the future where we do is heading home now that you mention British Muslim TV is non-sectarian.

What do you mean by that are not in the sense that we don't care if I leave you with this year or the sunny or whenever sect of Islam but they choose to practice and follow we fully embrace all members of the audience and also Muslims as well.

I might as well.

We do often have some more things to do as well because we want this to be an open platform for the whole community often we seen sadly in the securities division at times we are all about you.

Symmetry and giving a constructive platform for the kids and how are you finding? It was a gentleman who founded the company Yorkshire based entrepreneur just under 6 years ago, but the principal revenue comes through commercial advertising that advertises or also notably the charity sector does heavily heavily on these platforms to be able to broadcast a message to another on as well as premier sponsor.

They buy a charity so significant database of supporters and we also have to get commercial revenue as well as we have seen decline as most radio stations open BBC of diabetes in a very privileged position is Richard news.

How are you finding and also is your are you going to do you have a benefactor it all the benefactor.

That you're going to have to go to because of what coronavirus doing to your bottom line struggling financially in the current climate and work before the pandemic.

Obviously now as I said earlier.

This is pushed into the phone so we are currently in talks to launch a new business costs in terms of distribution rent i t and that sort of thing that will hopefully pushes into the black and then we'll have if not even Media business for the Jewish community, can you just take us inside that negotiation inside that deal? Where did the impetus to do that come from had been even talking about for a while anyway.

It's something that yeah you extradited because of what's been happening over recent weeks.

Where did it all begin to years ago? Obviously you like these products like the newspaper.

We had a captive audience unlike mainstream broad-based titles, but still that audiences aging and going digital so we are looking to consolidate as best as we can and very similar things I edit the newspaper man newspapers a local paper for the Jewish community, where is my colleague Steven at the National title? I think that the two together and complement each other and so in the coming months there will be one business whether or not that means I'm all that they'll be a free newspaper that the Jewish in partnership with a paid for like the Jewish Chronicle I'm not sure in my heart of Hearts by Imagine there's only room for one but that does the decisions to be made that in the months to come after this pandemic is over.

Thank you.

What are you telling us that the that the pandemic has caused such an enormous disruption and destination of your income.

It is a serious chance to choose news won't be with us so much longer.

That was the chance that all the Jewish Chronicle that was the chance the beginning of the year when the the merger was announced before any of this happened now things have really come to the fore and that advertisers are travel and events those things don't exist anymore ok.

Let me go back to Martin Martin is the very existence of British Muslim TV premier Christian Radio Jewish News evidence that the mainstream doesn't offer enough for people with faith.

I think it is a real challenge for those of us working in what you might describe as a secular use division to get for some of these issues outside of high days and holidays if you look at the first two-thirds of any television news bulletin.

It's invariably dominated by politics and economics the final is there a battleground for what might be described as the second tier portfolios arts and entertainment sport and religious affairs and it's really difficult sometimes.

Space for these issues from my perspective one of the benefits is that I serve the radio channels in addition and that includes the world service really proved to be my salvation because radio output editors seems somehow much more keen on religious content and of course the world service is serving audiences where religious news highly prized and valued and so those outlets provide an opportunity.

I think it's also worth saying by the way that these religious communities are merely reflecting otherkin interest in the way they develop their own niche platforms to supply content and so there's been a growth of specific religious groups from Catholic to seek supply and specialised content play Communities right across the web in every other Spectre sector whether it's food clothing whatever it's the same and so the digital platform the digital.

Solution is it worth has provided that opportunity if you look back over recent years at what we call mainstream Media in the news stories related to Christianity or Islam or Judaism whenever it might be lots of people to say what they remember is to be blunt that really quite negative Christianity stories about paedophile priests Islam news report extremism and so on why do positive news stories about faith really seem to get through.

What is a fair criticism of you the whole story they may not be a sexy.

You know hearing about food banks.

We are involved with feedback from it's very early in section and where you know it's delightful to see how do I get in how they have actually been there for a time where right now people are in need of of their services so the it's it's a mixed bag, isn't it?

Let's have this Desire or whoever they have a decision to make about what makes it to the to the bulletin and you make a paedophile story vs.

Hearing about 8 people young people.

I know she was going to make it.

I've been campaigning for newsreaders bad for a long time ago and Martin I did a story quite recently about a foster mother who happened to be a Muslim and was appointed as the foster carer of the Year by the fostering network that story was a beautifully warm and touching story of your Chowdhury had cared for over 25 children some of whom were born with addictions to heroin and we got that story onto the news.

I did a story recently about the increase in attendance at evensong.

We know for example that attendance at church services on some.

50% in 15 years but attendance at evensong is up 35% since 2013 will proactively trying to counter a particularly if you like stereotypical thing which you feel maybe it's got wrong in the past you actually trying to change the way religion is covered.

I'm not not actively as in the form of advocacy, but I think that we have a real problem if the only thing we ever reflect on through the church is paedophilia and the and the Independent enquiry into child sexual abuse because the church is peopled by hundreds of thousands the vast majority of whom make a tremendous Civic contribute to our culture and it's not fair to do that in the way that we have in the absolutely no, just bring it back in on one of these.

Do you think is important for religious covered by mainstream, broadcasters to be representative so for instance if products are 0.3% of the British population.

Do you think they should account for 0.3% of coverage is that would that be a wave making sure that all Facebook of proportionality, but I will say is I'm a firm Believer as is the channel that we should have Diversity in a representation of the primary issue that all broadcasters urgently need to do with his underrepresentation of women and I think the second issue was the under-representation of the Bane community as a whole it is under I think about you.

That is proportional that is the key thing and then secondly you know people's religions and their religious beliefs are somewhat private.

I think some people like to be explicit about it some people like to be private but briefly come back to the point.

You just making a bad also about correcting the wrong and you know narrative.

We actually embrace as well issues within our community that needs to be dealt with and also serving those who?

One of the most interesting projects, I've worked on recently is actually a relationship with the her majesty's prison service we actually broadcasting in there now.

It's not something to shout about but it's something that we've embraced because we want to serve left behind I think it's all aspects of the community.

That's the key ok that is it for today if you're celebrating any of the religious festivals coming up you have my very best wishes.

Thank you to all.

I get smarter BBC religious affairs correspondent McLean the executive director of premier Christian Radio using editor-in-chief at British Muslim TV and Richard editor of Jewish news next weekend from all of us on the media team.

We wish you and your family all good.

Thank you for your company.

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