UK sanctions christian TV owned by Nigerian pastor Oyakhilome over sermon on false covid-19 claim
London, May 19, 2020 (AltAfrica)-A UK based Christian television channel LoveWorld Television Ministry founded by a Nigerian pastor, Chris Oyakhilome has been sanctioned by UK’s communications regulator, Ofcom for airing “potentially harmful statements” about the Covid-19 pandemic
Programmes aired in early April on the LoveWorld Television Ministry, which broadcasts on satellite around the world, claimed there was a “global cover-up” over 5G networks being the cause of the pandemic.
The British regulator said the programme also echoed claims from US president Donald Trump that an anti-malaria drug, hydroxychloroquine, was a cure for the virus. The statements in April drew mass international criticism, with trials for the drug still inconclusive.
“LoveWorld News featured potentially harmful statements about the coronavirus pandemic and adequate protection was not provided to viewers,” a statement from Ofcom said.
“We have imposed a sanction on the broadcaster, requiring it to broadcast statements of our findings. We are considering whether to impose any further sanction,” the statement added.
Christian Oyakhilome, a Nigerian pastor, founded the network’s associated church, Christ Embassy, in Lagos in 1987. The church has at least 90 branches in the UK and an estimated 13 million followers around the world.
Oyakhilome has been critical of the lockdown measures that have forced places of worship to close around the world, and has himself propagated conspiracy theories about the virus
THE STATEMENT BY OFCOM
Ofcom has today imposed a sanction on Loveworld Limited, which broadcasts the religious television channel Loveworld, after a news programme and a live sermon included potentially harmful claims about Covid-19.
Our investigation found that a report on Loveworld News included unsubstantiated claims that 5G was the cause of the pandemic, and that this was the subject of a ‘global cover-up’. Another report during the programme suggested hydroxychloroquine as a ‘cure’ for Covid-19, without acknowledging that its effectiveness and safety as a treatment was clinically unproven, or making clear that it has potentially serious side effects.
A sermon broadcast on Your Loveworld also included unsubstantiated claims linking the pandemic to 5G technology, as well as claims which cast serious doubt on the necessity for lockdown measures and the motives behind official health advice on Covid-19, including in relation to vaccination.
There is no ban on broadcasting controversial views which are different from, or which challenge, official authorities on public health information. However, given the unsubstantiated claims in both these programmes were not sufficiently put into context, they risked undermining viewers’ trust in official health advice, with potentially serious consequences for public health.
Given these serious failings, we concluded that Loveworld Limited did not adequately protect viewers from the potentially harmful content in the news programme and the sermon, and the news reports were not duly accurate. Loveworld Limited must broadcast our findings and we are considering whether to impose any further sanction