UK agency fines Pastor Oyakhilome’s TV N65 million over baseless coronavirus conspiracy theories

Ofcom, a regulatory authority for broadcasting in the United Kingdom, has imposed a monetary fine on Loveworld Limited for airing potentially harmful claims about the coronavirus disease.

Loveworld is owned by Nigerian pastor, Chris Oyakhilome, who has on numerous occasions propagated outrageous claims about COVID-19.

Ofcom announced in a statement on Wednesday, March 31, 2021, that the company is to pay the fine of N65 million (£125,00) after a programme broadcast on its religious service, Loveworld Television Network, featured inaccurate and potentially harmful claims about COVID-19.

The regulator said the 29-hour programme, Global Day of Prayer, included statements claiming that the pandemic was planned for sinister purposes.

The programme also aired claims that the COVID-19 vaccine is a means of administering nanochips to control and harm people.

Previous disproven claims about the link between 5G technology and COVID-19 were also repeated during the programme which was broadcast via a direct feed from Lagos.

Ofcom ruled that the programme had the potential to undermine confidence in public health advice about the disease which has infected nearly 130 million people across the world.

The agency has previously sanctioned the station for similar issues in May 2020 and January 2021 without imposing a financial penalty.

In response to Wednesday’s decision, Loveworld gave Ofcom a number of assurances as to how it would improve its compliance procedures.

The company said it had brought the matter to Pastor Oyakhilome’s attention and would ensure that his live sermons are henceforth monitored and broadcast with a 20-second delay to screen out any potentially harmful claims in relation to COVID-19.

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