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BBC bigotry challenged.

London -- "Enough is enough," said Birmingham Archbishop Vincent Nichols. The first days of October, 2003, saw him launching a preemptive strike against the British Broadcasting Corporation for its plans to broadcast a Panorama documentary called "Sex and the Holy City" on October 19, the day of Mother Teresa's beatification, and for its plans to screen a Kenyon Confronts documentary on child abuse in the Catholic Church on October 16, the day on which Pope John Paul II celebrated the 25th anniversary of his election.

The Archbishop also attacked the BBC for its forthcoming satirical cartoon Popetown and for the unfair treatment of Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor of Westminster by the BBCs Radio Four Today programme during a campaign for his resignation last year (led by a team of BBC Newsnight reporters). "These are offensive initiatives," said Archbishop Nichols, speaking on behalf of the Catholic Church in England and Wales and with the blessing of Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor. "I do not believe they have wide public support. Certainly the Catholic community is fed up seeing a public service broadcaster using the licence fee to pay unscrupulous reporters trying to recirculate old news and to broadcast programmes that are so biased and hostile."

Archbishop Nichols particularly criticized the "investigative journalism" program of Kenyon Confronts for the morally questionable methods used by its reporters to dredge up again previous cases of child abuse, some over 50 years old. These methods included conning their way into retirement homes to cross-question elderly and confused priests (none of whom had been involved in any of the actual cases).

The Archbishop was offered an interview with the makers of Kenyon Confronts, but did not accept it when they refused to broadcast it live "for technical reasons". Presumably he had noted the editing-out of crucial information from the Cardinal in the Today episode; this particular item had been prerecorded.

The BBC, of course, denied bias and insists that it has no anti-Catholic agenda. Its royal charter comes up for renewal in 2006, and there is presently an independent review in process under government advisor Lord Burns. Many Catholics are urging Archbishop Nichols to "compile a dossier of concrete examples of prejudice" for submission to the Burns panel. All British residents who own TV sets are required to pay an annual licence fee to subsidize the operations of the BBC.

Canadians are also required to fund their public broadcaster, the CBC, from their federal taxes. While we credit CBC for their tremendous coverage of last year's World Youth Day in Toronto--and in 1984 for Pope John Paul's visit to Canada--Canadian Catholics cannot but notice a similar inbuilt liberal bias among commentators as that of Britain's "Mother Corp." An egregious example during the 2002 WYD coverage was CBC News' concentration on dissenting opinions such as the (three-nights-in-a-row hype) young man attempting to distribute condoms at Toronto's Exhibition Place.

Examples of prejudiced reporting and comment should be brought to the attention of the CBC Ombudsman and your own parliamentary representative.
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Title Annotation:England; Birmingham Archbishop Vincent Nichols protests against broadcast of Sex and the Holy City, satirical cartoon Popetown and treatment of Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor on Radio Four Today
Publication:Catholic Insight
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Jan 1, 2004
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