The Office of Communications in the United Kingdom, known simply as Ofcom, has slammed a fine on a religious channel, Loveworld, owned by popular Nigerian Pastor, Chris Oyakhilome.
Ofcom explained in a statement that Loveworld was fined £125,000 (N65.6m) for breaching the UK’s broadcasting code by disseminating misinformation on COVID-19.
“Today we have fined Loveworld £125,000 for this breach of the broadcasting code. This was the second time in a year that the broadcaster breached our rules on accuracy in news and harm in its coverage of the coronavirus,” Ofcom said in the statement.
The agency noted that the inaccurate and potentially harmful claims made during the programme were unsupported by any factual evidence and went entirely without challenge.
It said that “Ofcom has imposed a financial penalty of £125,000 on Loveworld Limited after a programme broadcast on its religious service Loveworld Television Network featured inaccurate and potentially harmful claims about the Coronavirus without providing adequate protection for viewers.
“Ofcom considered these breaches to be serious, repeated and reckless, warranting the imposition of a statutory sanction beyond the direction to broadcast a statement of our findings that Ofcom issued in its Decision published 15 January 2021,” it said.
Loveworld , on December 1, 2020, aired a 29-hour programme dubbed the Global Day of Prayer, during which it made claims about the COVID-19 pandemic.
In his sermons and comments, Oyakhilome never left anyone in doubt over his belief that the pandemic was a hoax. He has also consistently spoken against the administration of vaccines to prevent the virus attack.
“Ofcom’s investigation found that the 29-hour programme, Global Day of Prayer, included statements claiming that the pandemic is a “planned” event created by the “deep state” for nefarious purposes and that the vaccine is a “sinister” means of administering “nanochips” to control and harm people.
“Some statements claimed that fraudulent testing had been carried out to deceive the public about the existence of the virus and the scale of the pandemic. Others linked the cause of Covid-19 to the rollout of 5G technology,” Ofcom added.