Ofcom’s latest Broadcast Bulletin (PDF download) reveals that a Christian TV channel has been reprimanded because a guest on one of its shows expressed the opinion that Islam was not a religion of peace.
Revelation TV, co-founded by a former drummer for the mighty Barron Knights, is as whacky as Christian broadcasting comes. But Ofcom judged them to have overstepped the mark when “theologian, teacher and author ” Dan Juster (clearly a loon even by Christian fundie standards) said on Visions for Israel that he believed,
Islam cannot be defined as a peaceful, loving religion…Islam enforces its own viewpoint through the power of the sword through death…
Islam believes that violence is a legitimate means to establish and extend Islam.
Whether or not you agree with either of these statements – and they are both arguable with reference only to history and Islamic sacred texts – surely Juster has a right to voice them, and any channel, Christian or not, has a right to broadcast them?
Not according to Ofcom, who deemed Revelation TV to be in breach of Rule 4.1 of the Code (Broadcasters must exercise the proper degree of responsibility with respect to the content of programmes which are religious programmes).
So it is now irresponsible to express an honest opinion about a religion?
In its judgement, Ofcom made all the usual noises about “the right to freedom of expression”, but concluded:
this Code Rule requires broadcasters to exercise the proper degree of responsibility when, for example, using hyperbole which may include more extreme views which could be
deemed offensive to people in the audience who hold different views and beliefs.
What is more saddening is that Revelation TV, far from being outraged at the accusation (which, incidentally, stemmed from ONE complaint), are themselves grovelling apologetically at the very idea that they caused offence. In its defence to Ofcom, it appealed,
having viewed the previous six editions of the series and found them to be compliant with the Code, it was lulled into a false sense of security with respect to this seventh episode and did not view it for compliance prior to transmission.
if it had been aware of the programme’s content it would either not have shown it, or would have arranged a discussion/debate on the issues raised, since it was aware that as a religious television channel it had many viewers who were sympathetic to the Muslim faith.
What an appalling display from regulator and broadcaster alike.