There are many different types of religious programmes, and seeing that there is so much choice over the five terrestrial channels, the importance of religious television has started to drop. The decline in the viewing of sacred programmes brings forward two major questions: Are people less interested in watching such programmes, or are they, as a society, not as religious as they once were?
Religious programmes have always been present for as long as the television has been around. An example of a religious programme is a magazine show.
The typical features of a magazine show are a presenter, comments on a variety of different issues relating to religion and faith, interviews with celebrities as well as personal stories from ordinary people. An example of a magazine show is “The Heaven and Earth Show”, normally shown around mid-day on a Sunday.
Before watching the show, I believed that the audience of this programme would be of an old age, and would be people who are very religious, whereas after watching the show, I saw that there was no specific target audience, as the audience was people of all ages.
The show concentrates on four main things, reviews, interviews, news and a viewer phone session.
The news section talks about topics in which the public has shown interest, which they review. “The Heaven and Earth Show” also investigates about different parts of religion like the spiritual side. Many famous people and ordinary citizens are both interviewed about their religion, and/or on what they think about a specific religious issue.
Ultimately, the phone in section is where people phone in and state their views on an important subject. Conclusively, a magazine show, in my opinion, is very interesting and is not always about religion.
Another type of a religious programme is a religious documentary, which has examples like “Everyman” and “Heart of he Matter.” This type of programme sometimes does not even look at religious viewpoints and usually displays a debate or a documentary about something, which is important in the public’s eye e.g. the Iraq crisis at the moment.
Religious documentaries look at all the viewpoints to then construct a list of arguments for and against the matter. Their ending is quite stereotypical, as they seem to end in such a way that allows the viewer to make up his/her own mind.
I am of the opinion that because broadcasters desire to show what society wants to see, new types of religious programmes like religious documentaries and magazine shows, have started to be shown on terrestrial T.V.
Worship programmes, such as “Songs of Praise”, which includes Church ceremonies and hymn singing, have been present from the first days of the television. Conversely, as society has undergone a dramatic change (for example society has now become multi-faith) the stereotype of the typical religious programme has also been altered.
Due to this alteration that has occurred in society, worship programmes have been forced to change. “Songs of Praise”, showed around 6-7pm, has started to include new features. These include features like human-interest stories from ordinary people, inspirational music performances, and how faith has affected their lives. “Songs of Praise” analyses many different dominations of Christianity, such as Catholics etc.
The traditional features of the programme are still shown, for instance the audience can sing along with the hymns as the words actually appear on the television screen. Overall worship programmes have changed by a considerable amount as they have now started to attract viewers from a younger age group. Additionally, religion has always played a role in society; however, the role of religion upon society is now very different to that of the traditional role; consequently numerous new varied religious programmes are being displayed.
Traditionally, society was regarded as strictly religious Christians, and people attended Church and prayed there more often. A recent poll displays that 85% of our society still have faith in God or a superior being. Even though this displays that the majority of people still believe in God, we can’t categorise them as strictly religious. The change in society has altered the way that people view their religion, and modern-day society can be classified as indistinctly religious. I believe this for several reasons, initially people do not pray as often as they used too. Secondly, many people only focus on their religion, during festivals and religious events. Thirdly and lastly, people do not visit their holy places of worship, as often as they used too.
As a consequence of society becoming indistinctly religious, the God slot has officially been eliminated. The God slot is a period of time every day where worship programmes are displayed on T.V. Conversely, due to society not wanting to view such programmes, the only enduring worship programme, “Songs of Praise”, has been forced to modernise. At first “Songs of Praise” only illustrated Church ceremonies, but it now concentrates on moral issues and interviewing celebrities, which clearly demonstrates the enormous influence that society has on religious television.
The fact that society has become increasingly multi-ethnic and multi-religious has led to many people converting to other religions, which they find right for themselves. Broadcasters must respect this, thus they have began to display religious programmes that do not just focus on Christianity.
Conclusively, the variety of religious programmes has increased from just worship programmes to a range of different shows, such as, magazine shows and documentaries etc. I believe that society converting from a strictly religious one to an indistinctly religious one is the main reason as to why this change has occurred.