IAN JAMES ON TV-RADIO
HOW important, and how effective, is religious broad casting? Is it good communication — or is it a bore? Do religious programmes .(as many critics claim) appeal only to religiously convinced people? How many people watch, or listen to, the regular Sunday afternoon pro grammes? • For the next three weeks this column will set aside its customary critical role in an endeavour to find the answers to these questions. To begin, it seems necessary'that 1 should give a short "who's who" of the enormously complex religious broadcasting set-up, particularly so far as television is concerned, and of necessity because last week I erred in commenting on the appointment of a new television executive.
Mr. Michael Redington, who has been appointed Supervisor of Features for ABC Television, will he able to exercise his influence over Sunday
Break and not About Religion, as I said
last week. Mr. Redington is a former producer of About Religion, but that was in the days when he worked for ATV. On Sundays, on the commercial programmes, you can see, at 6.35, ABC's Sunday Break one week and ATV's About Religion the next week . . • and so on throughout the year. This share-basis is also used, but in a slightly different way, for the 6.15 spot which is either ABC's Wonder World or ATV's Story Time . . . here you get 13 weeks of one and then 13 weeks of another.
Move on to 7.05 on Sunday evening and again you have this 13-week stint by either ABC or ATV, the actual programmes being either Halleluiah (from the ABC stable) or Voice of Melody (from ATV).
How is this unwieldy exercise in what the television people call "slot filling" controlled. At the head of it all, so far as commercial television is concerned. is Mr. Penry Jones who has the title of Religious Programmes Officer.
Mr. Jones works with a panel of advisers, six of them, who meet once a month. All the denominations are represented on this panel — all the members are clergymen —and the Catholic spokesman is Mgr. George Tomlinson.
This panel, in fact, wields a very significant power because it must put its stamp of approval on any programme devised by any of the programme companies coming under the wing of the Independent Television Authority (which means all the commercial television companies).
The programmes have already been given the benefit of "expert" advice, however, because each of the companies (with its own director of religious broadcasts) has a religious