It’s only been broadcasting for a month and half but British Muslim TV already has a considerable achievement to its name – it makes ALL the other Islamic channels on the Sky platform look good, writes Roshan Muhammed Salih.
At the beginning of June there was a lot of press coverage about a new channel that would “reflect the different voices of the Muslim community in the UK” and would embody the tag line “Confidently Muslim, Comfortably British”.
According to pre-launch publicity it would be “inclusive of all different views and open to all different types of Muslims.” They would be “really passionate about bringing content that’s relative to the generations of today,” and would “provide both Muslim and non-Muslim communities with news, views and insights into how British Muslims live today.”
But actions speak louder than words and all we’ve got so far is 24 hours of non-stop advertising for Penny Appeal and singlemuslim.com.
To say that British Muslim TV has zero content would be an overstatement; so it should just be honest with its viewers (or very soon “viewer”) and re-name itself “Penny Appeal TV” and stop pretending that it’s a channel for British Muslims.
Ramadan bore fest
Unfortunately, I made a real effort to watch British Muslim TV during Ramadan but with hindsight I think my time would have been better spent tidying my sock drawer. The programme schedule went something like this:
Midnight to 3 am: Fundraising show with jolly presenters.
3.20 am to 7 pm: Non-stop charity adverts punctuated by a few inconvenient adhaans.
7pm to Midnight: “Give me your money and you will go to jannah” fundraising marathon.
Now unless I missed something (which is quite possible as it was difficult to stay awake) I didn’t see any lifestyle programmes, talk shows or children’s output as promised.
All that may come one day, but first impressions count and British Muslim TV may not have any viewers left by then.
To be honest I felt like writing this article around a month ago but I thought I would give British Muslim TV a chance to improve, everyone has teething problems at the start after all. But they haven’t improved, they’ve just kept on appealing for our money.
And this is a real shame because I really believe that British Muslims do require a cross-sectarian platform which offers quality programmes and gives us a real voice. I certainly have reservations about any Muslim channel that has the rather lame tag line “Confidently Muslim, Comfortably British”, but also welcome any genuine community initiative even if I disagree with some of its priorities.
Moreover, I have worked at several British Muslim media institutions in my career and all of them have been amateurish, badly managed, and have made promises to their staff and audiences that they have simply not kept. I had hoped that British Muslim TV would be different but the signs aren’t good.
Islam Channel, for example, is light years ahead of British Muslim TV in terms of programming and content, even though most observers I know think it is still a very average channel which has been on the slide for several years now. And if Islam Channel is as good as we’re ever going to get then that’s very depressing indeed.
Ultimately the owners of British Muslim TV can do whatever they want with their channel, but I they need to be more up front with the public.
So I have a few questions for him: Are any of the funds that are being donated to Penny Appeal being channeled back into British Muslim TV? And is the channel really there to serve the needs of British Muslims or is it purely a vehicle for a dating business and a charity?
Ok, I’m just going to switch on Sky Channel 860 now. Guess what’s on…