BY MURRAY WHITE TtECAThouc BISHOPS are o get their own radio studio next year. The Catholic Communications Centre is to establish the studio as part of the redevelopment of the Bishops' Conference headquarters in central London.
The new studio, to be built at Eccleston Square near London's Victoria station, signals an important stage in the rationalisation of the Bishops' public relations machine, helping them to meet increasing demands on their time from the media.
The Communications Centre together with the Catholic Media Office, which is the Bishops' Conference press office will now be under the same roof as key Bishops' secretariat staff.
In a report to cohicide with the World Day of Prayer for Communications next week, Catholic Communications Centre Director Jim McDonnell says the studio "will provide a valuable facility for bishops, priests and lay people to be interviewed on the radio about the work and beliefs of the Catholic Church". It will also be used to improve training facilities.
Dr McDonnell said that the BBC may eventually fund a direct link from the studio to its religious department In Manchester. A similar link-up is currently being considered for the Anglican administrative headquarters at Church House, Westminster.
Such a link would improve sound quality and allow for the possibility of live radio interviews. It would save time for bishops and conference secretariat staff, who currently have to travel to one of the BBC's own West End studios to conduct a live interview.
In the past 12 months, the Communications Centre has started to teach short media courses at seminaries, in order to ensure student priests are better equipped to deal with journalists Another new initiative, said Dr McDonnell, has been the establishment of crisis management training days, to help dioceses and religious orders "improve their handling of the media if they find themselves grappling with an actual or potential crisis".
*This has followed a series of Church scandals, which have been extensively reported in the national press.