BBC faces JR for Jerry Springer

Christian group seeks review of decision to broadcast 'offensive' programme

The BBC is facing a legal challenge to its decision to broadcast Jerry Springer – The Opera in January this year.

The Christian Institute, based in Newcastle, is seeking judicial review contending that the programme breached the BBC’s charter and the Human Rights Act by discriminating against Christians. It says the BBC broke its charter, which obliges it to uphold standards of taste, and failed to follow broadcasting standards guidelines, now supervised by Ofcom.

The stage version of Jerry Springer – The Opera has been a hit in London’s West End, but the announcement by the BBC that it intended to broadcast a version for television led to 47,000 complaints prior to transmission.

Christian Institute director Colin Hart said that the BBC had “a duty to respect the religious beliefs of its viewers” and “a duty to uphold the convention on human rights as a public authority.”

“There may be many shows running in West End theatres that I find offensive, but I am not paying for them to be pumped into my living room,” he said when the group first announced its plan to take legal action against the corporation.

Mr Hart said that his organisation had decided to take legal action rather than pursue a complaint through official BBC channels because it did not have faith in the system.

Despite the complaints, the programme was transmitted on BBC2 on 10 January, to just under 2 million viewers.

The BBC said the matter was being dealt with by its legal department, but confirmed that it had received legal papers on 3 March.