Believe TV Ofcom breach leads to heavy fine for Light Academy
Editor ©RapidTVNews | 07-02-2012
Ofcom has sanctioned The Light Academy with a financial penalty for broadcasting material related to faith healing transmitted on its Believe TV service.
The UK broadcasting regulator says that between 21 December 2010 and 1 February 2011, Believe TV content in various programmes has “seriously and repeatedly” breached Rules 2.1 and 4.6 of its Broadcasting Code leading to being “minded to impose a statutory sanction” in the form of a financial penalty of £25,000.
Ofcom considered that a penalty of £25,000 would be proportionate taking into account all the relevant circumstances, including the need to achieve an appropriate level of deterrence and the serious nature of the Code Breaches in this case; whilst also noting that this is the first sanction imposed on Believe TV.
The channel broadcasts programmes which include “testimony”, where members of the churches featured proclaim how health problems, financial issues or other personal matters have been alleviated through healing from a pastor or other religious leader and their faith in God.
Ofcom stated that although the contraventions of Rules 10.2 and 10.3 caused concern, it considered only the breaches of Rules 2.1 and 4.6 to be so serious as to warrant consideration of a statutory sanction. In addition, Ofcom considered the Code Breaches to be repeated because they happened repeatedly over a period of several months
Specifically Believe TV’s Paul Lewis Ministries and Pastor Alex Omokudu Healing Ministry Testimonies, were judged to have fallen foul of Rule 2.1 which states: “Generally accepted standards must be applied to the contents of television and radio services so as to provide adequate protection for members of the public from the inclusion in such services of harmful and/or offensive material,” and Rule 4.6 which notes: “Religious programmes must not improperly exploit any susceptibilities of the audience”.
It cited examples of the Paul Lewis Ministries programme broadcast on 21 December 2010 and 22 December 2010, preaching directly to camera and providing so-called ”healing” direct to individuals through the use of his “Miracle Olive Oil Soap”; Bishop Climate Irungu Ministries, broadcast on 4 January 2011, provided examples of “healing” direct to camera.
Ofcom also expressed concern at “testimonies” of congregation members (supported by statements by Pastor Alex Omokudu), which clearly encouraged viewers to believe that the healing or treatment of very serious illnesses, including cancer, diabetes, and heart problems could be achieved exclusively through healing provided by being anointed with a product such as olive oil soap, Ribena or oil.