Now the Bishops Attack Ross Pay Packet; Ross: [Pounds Sterling]6million a Year

Article excerpt

Byline: Steve Doughty

THE Church of England yesterday added its voice to the outcry over Jonathan Ross and his BBC salary.

It questioned why the corporation gave the presenter an [pounds sterling] 18million three- year contract, when his Friday of Praise.

And the Church called for the BBC to be stripped of its automatic right to pocket all the money raised by the licence fee.

It can no longer be trusted to maintain standards, it said.

The criticism from the Church - in the last century a staunch supporter of the BBC - follows a decade of growing disillusionment among its bishops.

Many believe the BBC has tried to sideline religious programmes in gen- eral and Christianity in particular.

CofE bishops were joined in their criticism by leaders of the Roman Catholic Church in England.

The message to Ofcom was signed by the CofE Bishop of Croydon, the Rt Rev Nicholas Baines and the Catholic Auxiliary Bishop of Westminster, the Rt Rev John Arnold.

They said there was a 'striking lack of consistency' in the fact that 'one programme gaining an audience of around four million weekly is regarded as a wild success meriting an [pounds sterling]18million star (Friday Night with Jonathan Ross), while another with a similar audience is regarded as part of an unprofitable genre (Songs of Praise)'.

Ross is currently suspended without pay from his broadcasting duties after the Andrew Sachs scandal. He will, however, return to the schedules next year. …