A public statement from the Rt Rev Dr Helen-Ann Hartley, Bishop of Ripon and Chair of the Sandford St Martin Trust:
“It is with concern that we at the Sandford St Martin Trust have read reports that the BBC is to be hit by a funding freeze and that the culture secretary Nadine Dorries is anticipating the abolishment of the licence fee after 2027.
“The BBC plays a critical role in the promotion and enhancement of the public and personal understanding of religion. This has never been clearer than during the last two years when so many UK citizens depended on the BBC for content that helped support their own religious practice and connected them with their communities.
“The value the BBC has offered in this area is evidenced through the list of excellent programmes that have been shortlisted or have won Sandford St Martin broadcasting awards in recent years.
“As a funding mechanism, the licence fee has served as contract between the broadcaster and the UK public – the only stakeholder its output exists to serve. We would be very sorry to see this or the BBC’s reputation as a world class public service broadcaster and creative leader jeopardised and would welcome an opportunity to discuss how public service broadcasting and the BBC can be funded to truly represent all communities and viewers in the UK.”
The Sandford St Martin Trust is an independent, non-profit organisation. It has been making annual broadcasting awards for the best programmes about religion, ethics and spirituality since 1978.
In addition to the Awards, the Trust engages with a wide range of media organisations and individual journalists, filmmakers, broadcasters and other media figures, many of whom give their time and expertise voluntarily to support the Trust’s work. This includes contributing to and participating in conferences, festivals and training as well as on-going public consultations and debates on the future of broadcasting.
The Trust believes the media can be a powerful tool to increase understanding of different perspectives and beliefs in our world, helping create greater understanding, tolerance and thoughtfulness.
You can read more about the Trust and its work at http://sandfordawards.org.uk