June 16, 2005
Jerry Springer judicial review fails
Christian Institute's challenge to decision to transmit BBC programme is dismissed
A challenge by a religious group to the BBC’s decision to transmit Jerry Springer – the Opera has been dismissed by the High Court.
The Newcastle-based, Christian Institute, had applied for a judicial review of the BBC’s decision to broadcast the programme arguing that it had violated its royal charter.
The high court however refused permission to bring the case.
The decision was widely expected following Ofcom’s rejection, in May this year, of a similar complaint about the transmission.
The Christian Institute had complained that the programme had contained hundreds of swear words and portrayed God, Jesus Christ, Mary, Adam and Eve and Satan as warring guests on a special edition of the Jerry Springer show – staged in Hell. The depiction of Jesus as a childish, foul-mouthed woman-beater with a sexual predilection for human excrement and who declared himself to be ‘a bit gay’ was said to have caused deep offence.
When proceedings were commenced in January, Colin Hart, Director of the Christian Institute said:
“I think this is the most offensive and spiteful show ever broadcast by the BBC. 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. I am appalled that a publicly funded body should be so contemptuous of the people who pay for its upkeep. The BBC has a duty to respect the religious beliefs of its viewers.”
Ofcom disagreed and found that the programme did not “gratuitously humiliate individuals or any groups and in particular the Christian community.”
The BBC received a record 47,000 complaints even before transmission of the programme on BBC2 in the January this year.