The BBC has defended moving Songs of Praise to an earlier regular...
A number of Church of England bishops have raised concern over the consequences of the BBC losing the right to make Songs of Praise.
It was announced on Friday that the much loved church based show will now be produced by independent companies Avanti Media and Nine Lives Media for the next three years.
Speaking to the Daily Mail, Bishop of Norwich, Rt Rev Graham James said: "It will have a knock-on effect on the broadcast of worship at other times, whether it's great festivals, Remembrance Sunday or those great state occasions when a big act of worship is so much at the centre of it.
"It's a worry to some of us that it will be another nail in the coffin of our religious literacy as a nation."
Bishop of Leeds, Rt Rev Nick Baines has also raised concern.
Speaking in the Telegraph, he said: "An independent company may well bring a fresh approach to Songs of Praise, but the BBC should also continue to bolster its religious output.
"At a time when the need for religious literacy and understanding is more acute than ever, the expertise of the BBC's religious department is an asset that needs protecting."
The change comes after a new charter agreement with the Government meant existing BBC Studios network TV output must be put out to competitive tender over the next 11 years.
In this case the BBC didn't bid enough money.
Fatima Salaria, the BBC's commissioning editor, religion and ethics said: "Songs of Praise remains our flagship religious programme right at the heart of our religion offer.
"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."
Songs of Praise first aired in 1961.
The show has been presented by the likes of Aled Jones and Premier's Pam Rhodes.