A Christian television station in the UK has been fined for the third time by a broadcasting regulator for airing “harmful” and “misleading” COVID-19 commentary on one of its programs.
LoveWorld Limited was slapped with a £25,000 fine after broadcasting watchdog Ofcom said the station had breached the rules of broadcasting by airing “unevidenced, materially misleading and potentially harmful statements about the Coronavirus pandemic and vaccines.”
Ofcom first took action against Loveworld early-2021 when its program entitled Global Day of Prayer included comments that described COVID-19 as an event “planned” by the “deep state,” warning the vaccine rollout could be used to implant “nanochips.”
The channel was issued a £125,000 fine for airing, what the regulator described as, “inaccurate and potentially harmful claims about the Coronavirus without providing adequate protection for viewers.”
“We have made it clear that it is legitimate for broadcasters to discuss and scrutinise the Government’s public health response to the pandemic — including the potential side effects of vaccinations – and that it may be in the public interest to do so,” Ofcom said in a statement.
“However, LoveWorld’s presentation of misleading claims without sufficient challenge or context risked causing serious potential harm to viewers, at a time when people were particularly likely to be seeking reliable information relating to the UK’s vaccination programme.
“We previously directed LoveWorld not to repeat the programmes, and to broadcast a summary of our decision. Given the seriousness of the breaches, we also consider a further statutory sanction is warranted. LoveWorld must pay a financial penalty of £25,000, which will be passed on to HM Treasury.”
Similarly, in Australia, subscription television company Foxtel has reportedly launched a review into one of its Christian channels after being accused of broadcasting COVID-19 disinformation.
The review comes after viewers complained that the American Christian station, Daystar TV, hosted interviews with “controversial doctors and anti-vaccination advocates.”
According to ABC News, it’s unclear whether the program breaks any rules in Australian Media and Communication Authority’s broadcasting codes.
“Unlike the new Code of Practice on Disinformation and Misinformation for online platforms brought in by ACMA earlier this year, there is no equivalent code for television,” the piece states.
“Different broadcasters such as the ABC, SBS, commercial free to air networks and subscription TV operate under different codes of conduct.”
ACMA has asked Foxtel to provide copies of the broadcast in question.