The Network of Sikh Organisations says the corporation needed to take “urgent steps” to rectify the problem and ensure it covered all religious communities in Britain fairly.
The group cited two recent instances when Sikhs were excluded from BBC programmes.
On 5th April 2009 BBC Radio 4’s ‘Sunday’ religious programme carried a lengthy discussion on ‘leadership in different religions’. The programme featured representatives from different branches of Christianity, Judaism, Islam and Hinduism, and even a Secularist, but no Sikh.
NSO say the following week’s programme carried no mention the important Sikh festival of Vaisakhi either.
Its director, Dr. Indarjit Singh, says: “I’m not really sure to what extent this lack of sensitivity to Sikhs is deliberate or simply due to ignorance. In any event, it is extremely serious and the BBC should take urgent steps to ensure fairness to all communities in its religious coverage.”
The NSO made a similar complaint last year. It pointed out that a breakdown of programming from the BBC’s Religion and Ethics department since 2001 showed the BBC made 41 faith programmes on Islam compared with just five on Hinduism and one on Sikhism.
On March 30th this year the chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group for UK Sikhs, Rob Marris MP, representing Wolverhampton South West, said he met BBC representatives along with Fiona MacTaggart MP to discuss related issues.
He said later: “Fiona and I were pleased that the BBC were prepared to recognise that there was some imbalance in their TV religious broadcasting and that they would like to see more programmes on Sikhism and Sikhs. They also suggested that a Sikh production company could be set up for co-productions with the BBC.”
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