Ofcom have fined Light Academy Ltd ฃ25,000 in respect of claims made by its Believe TV channel.
Ofcom decided that the programmes on Believe TV:
- Paul Lewis Ministries, December 2010
- Pastor Alex Omokudu Healing Ministry Testimonies, December 2010 – February 2011
- Bishop Climate Irungu Ministries, January 2011
- Rule 2.1: 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.
- Rule 4.6: Religious programmes must not improperly exploit any susceptibilities of the audience.
Ofcom 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.
Ofcom have previously highlighted a number of examples of broadcast material which had the potential for harm in breach of Rule 2.1, because some viewers with serious illnesses, especially more vulnerable ones, may not seek, or abandon existing, conventional medical treatment on the basis of what they have seen on Believe TV.
For example, Ofcom noted examples:
- Paul Lewis, in the programmes Paul Lewis Ministries broadcast on 21 December 2010 and 22 December 2010, preaching directly to camera and providing ‘healing’ direct to individuals through the use of his ‘Miracle Olive Oil Soap’; and
- Bishop Climate Irungu, in the programmes Bishop Climate Irungu Ministries, broadcast on 4 January 2011, providing testimony of ‘healing’ direct to camera; and
- ‘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.
Ofcom also considered whether to revoke the licence for believe TV but decided that this would not be proportionate.