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Mark Thomson, Director–General of the BBC, delivered the first annual Theos lecture on 14th October 2008.
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Mark Thompson, Director–General of the BBC from 2004 to 2012, gave the 2008 Theos Annual Lecture at the Lewis Media Centre. He gave a robust defence of the Corporation’s engagement with religion. He argued that the relationship between religion and the media is important “because, quite simply, religion is back. It’s not just in the news, but often leads the news.”
The assumption when he joined the BBC back in 1979, that the decline and marginalization of religion was a straight forward corollary of modernism and was inevitable, is in the process of being disproven.
Commenting on a speech given by the Archbishop of Canterbury in 2005 on the media, where the Archbishop argued that news media often acted in ways which were “lethally damaging” to journalism’s own reputation, Thompson defended the media and the BBC.
He argued that claims that the BBC is anti–God are “not just too sweeping; they are not even directionally true”, going on to outline his optimism for the future relationship between religion and the media.
The lecture was introduced by broadcaster Jeremy Vine, whose introduction forms the foreword to this transcript. Both Thompson and Vine bring thoughtful reflection and clearsighted direction to this complex but important topic.
Mark Thompson joined the BBC in 1979 and became Director–General in 2004. In this time he led the reshaping of the Corporation to meet the challenge of the digital age, ensuring it remained a leading innovator with the launch of services such as the domestic and global BBC iPlayer, while at the same time making the Corporation more efficient. He left the BBC in 2012.
Lewis Media Centre
London SW1P 4RS
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Theos researches and investigates the intersection of religion, politics and society in the contemporary world.