UK broadcast regulator Ofcom has imposed a financial penalty of £25,000 (€29,400) on religious satellite channel Loveworld after its investigation found it broke broadcasting rules.
During two episodes of current affairs programme, Full Disclosure, the presenters made a number of unevidenced, materially-misleading and potentially-harmful statements about the coronavirus pandemic and vaccines, which were broadcast without providing adequate protection for viewers.
Ofcom is clear that it is legitimate for broadcasters to discuss and scrutinise the Government’s public health response to the coronavirus pandemic – including the potential side effects of vaccinations – and that it may be in the public interest to do so. 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.
Ofcom considered these breaches to be serious. It previously directed Loveworld not to repeat the programmes, and to broadcast a summary of its decision. Given the seriousness of the breaches, it also considers a further statutory sanction is warranted. Loveworld must pay a financial penalty of £25,000, which will be passed on to HM Paymaster General. The level of fine reflects, among other things, the proactive steps that the channel has since taken to ensure future compliance with Ofcom’s rules.