Religious programming on a Sunday morning, was a attention grabber to the ITC at licence renewal time. Just like 'Highway' at 6.40 was on a Sunday evening for years - although that also had the advantage of getting the smaller ITV companies to clock up the network peak hours production programming quota, so a double ticked box.
I have wondered whether there was an assumption by the government that after the 25% from indies rule for ITV was implemented then around 90% of all religious programmes shown by ITV would be produced by indies instead of ITV companies themselves.
Religious programmes have often been amongst the least popular with the public and IMO most of those shown during the 1980s and 90s have left much to be desired.
Apart from televising major events like Easter Sunday and Remembrance Sunday services I never really understood the rationale behind Morning Worship 52 times a year.
For a little perspective. Religious programming was a hangover from the days before broadcasting hours limits were lifted in 1972.
Some might not know, but it was only in 1958 that both the BBC and ITV were allowed to air programming from 6.00pm-7.30pm on Sunday nights. The churches ensured the BBC and ITV didn't air any programming then on a Sunday early evening, to ensure people would go to a Sunday evening service.
In 1958 a compromise was reached, and the Postmaster General decreed that programming could air then, but it had to be religious programming, and ITV could not sell advertising during the slot, which became known as the "God Slot".
One of the good things Edward Heath's government did was in 1972 he lifted all restrictions on broadcasting hours. Once again, people seem to forget or not realise, until 1972, broadcasting hours was really limited by the government. 8 hours of normal programming per day - that 8 hours was generous, as it used to be just 5 hours a day in the early 1950s, later 7 hours a day with the launch of ITV in 1955.
Schools, adult education and of course religion were exempt from the limits, and so religion was a huge way both BBC and ITV could fill hours for "free" without intruding into their ration of normal hours each Sunday.
From 1972 onward, even though the broadcasting hours restrictions were lifted, religious programming remained a firm part, as it was one of the carrot and stick approach by the authority, have freedom of schedules, but in return provide a quota of hours per year of religious programming, which both BBC and ITV duly obliged.
1st January 1993 was really the start of the end of religious programming remits, especially for ITV under the new Broadcasting Act.
Hatton Cross and Riaz gave kudos