Programme makers dealing with religious themes
should be aware of what may cause offence. Programme makers and
schedulers of international services should consider carefully
the varying sensitivities of audiences in different parts of the
world. What may be unexceptional in a UK programme may raise strong
feelings elsewhere. Advice can often be given by departments dealing
with religious programmes in both domestic and international services,
or by relevant World Service language sections.
Deep offence will also be caused by profane
references or disrespect, whether verbal or visual, directed at
deities, scriptures, holy days and rituals which are at the heart
of various religionsfor example, the Crucifixion, the Gospels,
the Koran and the Jewish Sabbath. It is against the Muslim religion
to represent the Prophet Mohammed in any shape or form. Language
must be used accurately and be consistent in our description of
different religions. Use of a term such as "Islamic Fundamentalist"
has to pass the test of whether we would talk about Christian
or Hindu Fundamentalism.
Particular care should be taken with programmes
to be broadcast on the principal holy days of the main religions
to ensure that unnecessary offence is not caused by material that
might be more acceptable at other times.
What constitutes blasphemy and how seriously
it is viewed, varies within and between different religions and
cultures. Blasphemy is a criminal offence in the UK and advice
should be sought, through Heads of Department or Commissioning
Executives, from Editorial Policy and lawyers in any instance
where the possibility of blasphemy may arise.