The United Kingdom Office of Communications, otherwise known as Ofcom, has sanctioned Nigerian Pastor Chris Oyakhilome owned religious channel, Loveworld, for breaching the country’s broadcasting code by disseminating misinformation on COVID-19.
Ofcom said in a statement that the station was fined £125,000 (N65.6m) for violating code of broadcasting in the UK.
The statement read in part, “Today we have fined Loveworld £125,000 for this breach of the broadcasting code. This was the second time in a year that the broadcaster breached our rules on accuracy in news and harm in its coverage of the coronavirus.”
Loverworld had on December 1 2020, aired a 29-hour programme called the Global Day of Prayer, during which claims were made about the COVID-19 pandemic.
OfCom said 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 debunked theory that the virus was somehow caused by 5G.
The agency said it was unfortunate that the Loveworld could continue to spread such information despite previous warnings.
The statement further read, “Ofcom stresses that legitimate debate about the official response to the coronavirus pandemic is fundamental to holding public authorities to account during a global health crisis - particularly when public freedoms are curtailed and complex policy decisions are being taken.
“However, the inaccurate and potentially harmful claims made during this programme were unsupported by any factual evidence and went entirely without challenge. Ofcom was particularly concerned that this breach followed previous, similar breaches in 2020 during the investigation of which, Loveworld Limited gave Ofcom a number of assurances as to how it would improve its compliance procedures.”
Oyakhilome, who heads Christ Embassy church headquartered in Lagos, has over a year been encouraging his members to ignore COVID-19 protocols.
The popular pastor recently asked members of his church to reject COVID-19 vaccines.