In a scandal worse than the BBC losing The Great British Bake Off, BBC Studios Ltd has lost the rights to another one its best-loved broadcasts.
Songs of Praise, which has been in the Beeb's hands since 1961, has been handed over to Avanti Media and Nine Lives Media – the latter of which produce the likes of Panorama and Channel 4's Dispatches.
As part of recent Charter renewal negotiations, the BBC agreed to put all BBC programmes up for competition across an 11-year period – so expect Songs of Praise to be handled out-of-house for the next three years.
Fatima Salaria, the BBC's commissioning editor for religion and ethics, has reassured fans that the decision reflects "a commitment" to the series (via the Shropshire Star).
"This decision secures its future for the next three years and reflects both a commitment to the ongoing success of this much-loved series and to religious coverage more broadly," she said in a statement.
But Gerry Morrissey, head of the broadcasting union BECTU, is not convinced the BBC has the show's – or staff's – best interests at heart.
In a statement, Gerry said their "worst fears" of "programmes going outside the BBC" have been confirmed. "The BBC has a lot of explaining to do about this process," he added.
A staple for hymn-lovers across the nation, Songs of Praise has been a regular Sunday afternoon fixture for almost 60 years, and is one of the longest-running religious programmes of its kind.
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