Page 7, 29th August 2003

29th August 2003
Page 7
Page 7, 29th August 2003 — From Mr Tom Conlon Sir, Further to Alan Bookbinder's article

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Organisations: Catholic Church
Locations: Madrid, Reading


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From Mr Tom Conlon Sir, Further to Alan Bookbinder's article

(August 8) and Fr Andrew Byrne's letter (August 22) I do not see how anyone could maintain that the Today programme's reporting of Catholic affairs has not been tendentious and led by an agenda of hostility to the Catholic Church. Let us take just two examples. Last autumn, at the height of the campaign against the Archbishop of Westminster, Angus Stickler was permitted to read out an anonymous letter in a prime time news report. It is surely no hyperbole to say that for the BBC to make the platform of the Today programme available to a member of the green ink brigade is worthy of Goebbels. In 40 years of listening to the BBC radio news 1 can recall no similarly contemptible departure from normal standards of fairness and journalistic good practice.

A few months ago the Today programme carried, again as part of its main news, a report that the Bishop of Arizona had been charged in connection with a hit and run accident. Is the Bishop of Arizona a figure so noteworthy or so familiar to an English audience that his alleged misdemeanour (which he denies) deserves, on a reasonable judgment of news value, to be carried so prominently? Or, if international Catholic affairs arc of such interest to BBC listeners, why no report on the 700,000 young people who came to listen to the Pope earlier this year in Madrid?

Over the last four-and-a-half centuries anti-Catholicism, very much more so (as measured, say, by legislation directed against the Church and numbers killed for being Catholic) than more widely deplored vices such as anti-Semitism, has been the sin

gle most shameful strand in the history of the British Isles. Much of it has been instigated or connived at by government organisations. So what we are seeing at the BBC is nothing new — but it is no less revolting for being part of a long, disreputable tradition.

With its present standards of journalism the BBC does not deserve to have its licence renewed.

Yours faithfully, T E CONLON, Reading, Berks

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