UK slams £125,000 fine on Oyakhilome’s channel over COVID-19 theories

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The Office of Communications in the United Kingdom also known as Ofcom, have slammed a  £125,000 (N65.6 million) fine on Loveword TV channel owned by Pastor Chris Oyakhilome, for airing conspiracy theories about COVID-19 that were unproven.

On December 1st 2020, the TV channel had aired a 29-hour programme called the Global Day of Prayer, during which several unfounded claims were made about COVID-19.

These claims included the notion that the outbreak was ‘planned’, that the ‘sinister’ vaccine can be used to implant ‘nanochips’ that can control and cause harm to members of the public and the theory that the virus was somehow caused by 5G.

Following a detailed investigation by Ofcom, the communications regulatory body in the United Kingdom, it was concluded that the programme breached broadcasting rules by sharing ‘potentially harmful’ claims about COVID-19.

This marks the second time in a year that Ofcom has petitioned Loveworld for making unsubstantiated statements about coronavirus.

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In a statement released, Ofcom concluded Loveworld’s breach of broadcasting guidelines were “serious, repeated and reckless”. The broadcasting authority said that the TV channel posed a risk of “serious harm” to viewers who tuned in to watch the programme.

“Loveworld’s failure to put these unsubstantiated statements into context risked serious harm to its audience,” the statement said.

Ofcom added that the religious channels had the “potential to make people question the measures put in place to curb the spread of the novel Coronavirus.

“They had the potential to undermine confidence in public health measures put in place to tackle COVID-19 at a time when cases, hospital admissions and deaths were rising in the UK, and when people were looking for reliable information given advances in the vaccination programme,” Ofcom statement read.

Pastor Oyakhilome has repeatedly expressed doubts about the COVID-19 pandemic. Recently, he blasted Christian leaders encouraging their members to take the COVID-19 vaccine.