UK fines Pastor Chris’ channel for disseminating Covid-19 misinformation

The Office of Communications in the United Kingdom has sanctioned Pastor Chris Oyakhilome’s religious channel, Loveworld, over breached of the country’s rules on accuracy in news and harm in its coverage of the coronavirus.

Ofcom said in a statement that the station was fined £125,000 (N65.6m)  after the channel violated broadcasting codes for the second time.

Earlier in December 2020, Loveworld aired a 29-hour programme called the Global Day of Prayer, during which claims were made about the COVID-19.

The agency, then sanctioned Loveworld saying the channel’s information was unsubstantiated claims about coronavirus without providing adequate protection for viewers. 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 communication infrastructures.

The agency concluded it was unfortunate that the station could continue to spread such information despite previous warnings.

The statement read in part: “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 program 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.”

Pastor Chris Oyakhilome, who heads Christ Embassy church headquartered in Lagos, has in the last year encouraged his members to ignore COVID-19 protocols. The clergy has become more controversial in recent times.

He claimed to have reached up to 5 billion worshippers worldwide during his recently concluded 2021 Global Day of Prayer event, a number that left many people questioning the accuracy of the pastor’s claims.


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