UK broadcasting regulator, Ofcom, has sanctioned Loveworld Television Network, a station founded by Pastor Chris Oyakhilome, for airing “potentially harmful statements” about the coronavirus pandemic.
Oyakhilome, founder and president of Loveworld Incorporated aka Christ Embassy, had made several claim on his network since the outbreak of COVID-19.
In a bulletin on Monday, Ofcom said programmes aired in early April by Oyakhilome’s LoveWorld perpetuated baseless conspiracy that the virus is linked to the roll-out of 5G phone networks and insinuations of a “global coverup”.
Ofcom said the network also echoed claims that an anti-malaria drug, hydroxychloroquine, was a cure for the virus.
Oyakhilome’s Loveworld Loveworld Incorporated is based in Lagos but has operations in several countries across the world, including the United States and the United Kingdom.
In footage of sermons circulated on social media during the pandemic, Oyakhilome has been seen criticising lockdown measures and casting aspersions on the value of a vaccine.
The regulator said the pastor’s claims had to be checked so that they do not undermine the work of the health authorities in curbing the spread of coronavirus.
Read the full Ofcom statement:
Ofcom has today imposed a sanction on the licensee Loveworld Limited, which broadcasts the religious television channel Loveworld, after a news programme and a live sermon included potentially harmful claims about causes of, and treatments for, 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 presented 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. These views were presented as facts without evidence or challenge.
Ofcom stresses that there is no prohibition on broadcasting controversial views which diverge from, or 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. We have directed Loveworld Limited to broadcast statements of our findings and are now considering whether to impose any further sanction