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Norwich Bishop's Songs of Praise move warning

The Bishop of Norwich has warned that the BBC losing the right to make Songs of Praise could be “another nail in the coffin of the religious literacy of the nation”.

The popular worship programme has been made in-house since 1961. Under a new competitive tendering process, BBC Studios was required to pitch for the contract, which it lost to a joint bid by two independent production companies with much less experience in the genre.

The BBC said the alternative pitch offered better value for money and more innovative programme ideas.

Speaking out on the issue, Bishop Graham James told BBC Radio Norfolk: “It’s a worry to some of us that it will be another nail in the coffin of the religious literacy of the nation.

“I don’t think there’s any chance of us losing Songs of Praise; it will still go out and I hope it will maintain its standard.  Without it, it is difficult to see how the BBC will maintain its expertise in this genre which will have a knock-on effect on the broadcast of worship at other times.

“I am not unique in having anxieties for the future of the religion and ethics department and especially for those who are concerned with television within it.”

He went on to say: “It would be very odd if something in which tens of millions of people engage, and which is at the centre of their lives, disappeared from our television screens on a regular basis. Now that would be a real tragedy and place religion at the margins and in a box of 'too private and too difficult to deal with'."

Hear the full interview at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p04swwhq start listening at 1hr 10mins.
 
Pictured above is the Bishop of Norwich, the Rt Rev Graham James.
 

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