Making a complaint to the BBC
UPDATE: a month or so after making this Christmas Day complaint, I received this response from the BBC Information Office.
The BBC is running dramatizations of the C.S. Lewis Narnia books on its BBC 7 channel. These are OK yarns, and I don’t find them overtly propagandistic, though C.S. Lewis was definitely attempting to put Christianity in a popular culture context often didn’t reach.
I happen to listen to a lot of BBC radio: dramas, music, news, etc. At the end of today’s episode of “Voyage of the Dawn Treader” (Lewis, Narnia link only good till December 30), the production is credited to “Focus On The Family” the right-wing organization committed to eradicating homosexuality. I did some research and found that Focus On the Family did indeed produce an enormous amount of entertainment programming. They have either misled the BBC that they are a typical vendor, or the BBC does not care. Or maybe the programmers at BBC7 don’t know the difference. The Christianization of Hollywood has been big news lately, real or not.
I made a formal complaint to the BBC, making the argument that it is wrong to fund people who discriminate and lobby for the repression of homosexuality.
The worst part of the letter is its BBC speak, but I wanted to come across like a don. Hopefully, this tone will trigger a desire to please.
To Whom It May Concern,
I am longtime listener to the BBC online stations.
As an American, I appreciate the diversity of programming, in particular the BBC’s continuing commitment to radio drama and comedy. It is one of the unpleasant facts of life that U.S. networks abandoned plays for the by 1960 (long before I was born). I depend upon the BBC to provide a broad variety of entertainment that I can enjoy without the complete captivation of television. I enjoy also the BBC News coverage of U.S. society and politics, as it gives a refreshing and open-minded appraisal of our institutions, for a general audience, something our own media somehow forgot.
Imagine my surprise today after listening to the BBC 7 broadcast of the C.S. Lewis’ program to hear “Voyage of the Dawn Treader is a production of ‘Focus on the Family.'” I had not idea that this organization had branched out into the entertainment field.
I believe that BBC 7 has violated the BBC Editorial Guidelines for Hosted Programs in running this material, as “Focus On The Family” is not an official or a ‘training body’ as outlined in the policy.
Furthermore, the broadcast probably violated the rule on Political Impartiality, since the BBC’s patronage of a “Focus On The Family” production legitimates and advertises a highly partisan and intolerant organization.
“Focus on the Family” is famous for in this country for its anti-homosexual views. You could say it is anti-liberal, (using the European, not the U.S. sense of the term ‘liberal’) in that they do not practice a politics of compromise. “Focus On the Family” believes that other faiths are false religions and their adherents must be converted before the imminent end of the world. They have attached themselves to the most far-right elements of U.S. politics and are intent to force the most regressive kind of social policies. Slate Magazine discussed its founder and president, Dr. James Dobson, and his importance within the far-right movement, especially since Reverends Falwell and Robertson no longer so active.
“Focus On the Family” has been one the leading pressure groups opposing the civil unions, parental rights, and personal freedoms of gay persons in this country. Dr. Dobson has likened stem cell research to Nazi medical experimentation. “Focus On the Family” is a strong proponent of corporal punishment. The organization organizes something called “Love Won Out”, a traveling conference with the express mission of “promoting the truth that change is possible for those who experience same-sex attractions”. Its intention is to converting homosexuals to abstinence or reproductive sex. The effect is discriminatory, as a recent MSNBC article discusses: . Further aspects of the organizations agenda can be ascertained from the “Social Issues” section of its website: “Sexuality”,
“Worldview & Culture” , “Sanctity of Human Life” .
The December 2006 issue of “Citizen” the free “Focus On the Family” monthly news magazine, includes articles entitled ” “Above All Other Gods” and “High Court’s Big Secret: Don’t tell the ACLU, but a recent discovery proves the U.S. Supreme Court is a faith-based organization.” The magazine’s purpose is explicitly for recruiting and training of right-wing activists, as it says on the subscription/join webpage, the magazine offers “stories of local heroes who’ve overcome great odds (and their own fears) and stood up for the values you cherish, along with practical steps that help you make a difference.”
It is not an entertainment organization, which happens to donate to political causes. “Focus On the Family” is a political organization, founded in 1977 and active in politicizing fundamentalist Christianity since which has created an entertainment arm. In fact, it is an active participant in what they term a “culture war” against secular and non-Christian society. By purchasing these programs, the people of the U.K. are inadvertently funding an organization with social goals most analogous to the Monday Club if the Reverend Ian Paisley led it.
I am aware, of course, that C.S. Lewis was a Christian, and that it is perhaps understandable that an ostensibly Christian production company would use his material. However, the BBC is under no obligation to patronize such a company. I object that the BBC has chosen to license the product of a vendor that is definitely using its profits to further an anti-gay, anti-secular, fundamentalist agenda in my country.
I would be most pleased if the BBC would cancel its contract and immediately supplant the “Focus On the Family” material with another production. The BBC must have access to previous productions of the C.S. Lewis stories. At the very least, the BBC should give no further support to this U.S. political organization and never repeat its material again.
If I do not receive a clear acknowledgment that the material will not be repeated, I will be contacting American and British organizations concerned with the separation of Church and State, and which oppose the infiltration of far-right prejudices into mainstream opinion.
Its like the BBC hired Mel Gibson to do something, anything. It wouldn’t matter what the project is here. The BBC’s money is going to religious chauvanists with a slick marketing operation.