Ofcom issued a draft notice to suspend the broadcasting licence of Club TV Limited, after its channel Peace TV Urdu repeatedly rebroadcast material that we had previously found incited murder.
Ofcom has a duty to suspend a broadcast licence if we are
satisfied that the licensee has broadcast a programme likely to encourage or to incite the commission of crime; that it has therefore contravened its licence conditions; and that the contravention justifies the revocation of the licence.
November 2019, having received Ofcom's draft suspension notice, Club TV surrendered its licence. Its sister company Lord Production Inc Limited, which held the licence to broadcast the English language Peace TV service, also surrendered its licence at
the same time.
The Peace TV and Peace TV Urdu services are no longer broadcasting.
The Rightly Guided Khalifas Islam Channel, 11 November 2018, 23:00
Islam Channel is an Islamic-focused, English language satellite television channel broadcast in over 136 countries worldwide, including the UK. Its output
includes religious instruction programmes, current affairs, documentaries and entertainment programmes, all from an Islamic perspective.
The Rightly Guided Khalifas1 is a religious education series on the history of the Qur'an,
detailing its origins, its written compilation and the measures used to preserve its original wording.
During routine monitoring, Ofcom identified potentially antisemitic content during the programme. Eg
The graphic was shown at the same time as this narration. It appeared to be an on-screen graphic of a letter written in Arabic. Translated into English, it read: Israel, that was established on tyranny and oppression with its beliefs
and sacred aspects, continues to practice its troublemaking and continues with its poisonous acts with its attempt to change the meaning of the Qur'an. It wants the obliteration of our beliefs and religion and in this way, it continues to practice what
their forefathers had engaged in the past, particularly in their practice of changing the words in the past.6 Signed: Shaykh Al Azhar
We considered both the spoken content in Arabic about events in 1961 and the
English subtitles of that narration raised issues under the following Code rules:
Rule 3.2: Material which contains hate speech must not be included in television206programmes...except where it is justified by the
Rule 3.3: Material which contains abusive or derogatory treatment of individuals, groups, religions or communities, must not be included in television206services...except where it is justified by the context...
Rule 2.3: In applying generally accepted standards broadcasters must ensure that material which may cause offence is justified by the context...Such material may include, but is not limited to206discriminatory treatment or language
(for example on the grounds of206race, religion or belief...).
Ofcom Decision: Breaches of Rules 3.2, 3.3 and 2.3
The broadcast of this potentially very harmful and highly offensive
antisemitic content represents serious breaches of the Code.
We are putting the Licensee on notice that we will consider these breaches for the imposition of a statutory sanction.
Kitaab-ut-Tawheed, Part 59, Peace TV Urdu, 22 November 2017, 09:00
Strengthening Your Family: The Valley of the Homosexuals Episode 9, Peace TV, 1 1 March 2018, 11:30
Media and Islam, War or Peace?, Peace TV, 13 November 2017, 07:30 and 14:00
Better Half or Bitter Half, Peace TV, 13 November 2017, 18:30
Umdatul Akhaam, Part 162, Peace TV, 13 November 2017, 22:30
This Bulletin sets out Ofcom's Decisions on the five programmes above.
Peace TV Urdu's licence is held by Club TV Ltd. Peace TV's licence is held by Lord Production Inc Ltd. Both licensees are
majority controlled by Universal Broadcasting Corporation Limited1.
Through monitoring, Ofcom identified content raising issues under the Code in four of these programmes. We received a complaint about the other
In accordance with our published procedures, Ofcom watched all the programmes and took careful account of all the relevant information, including the individual facts of each case and the representations
made by the licensees.
Ofcom has decided that four of the five programmes breached the Code, and one did not. The reasons are set out in full in each of the corresponding decisions which follow this summary. We have
notified the relevant licensees that we will consider the breaches in two of the programmes, Kitaab-ut-Tawheed and Valley of the Homosexuals, for the imposition of statutory sanctions.
Kitaab-ut-Tawheed: A religious scholar gave a view on the practice of magic. The programme breached Rule 3.1 (incitement to crime), Rule 3.2 (hate speech), Rule 3.3 (abusive treatment) and Rule 2.3 (offence).
Strengthening Your Family: The Valley of the Homosexuals. The presenter discussed a religious perspective on homosexuality. The programme breached Rules 3.2 (hate speech), Rule 3.3 (abusive treatment) and Rule 2.3
Media and Islam, War or Peace?: The presenter gave a religious view on the punishment for apostasy. The programme breached Rules 3.2 (hate speech), Rule 3.3 (abusive treatment) and Rule 2.3
Better Half or Bitter Half: The presenter gave a religious view on child marriage. The programme breached Rule 2.3 (offence).
Part 162: The presenter discussed specific religious texts on prescribed punishments. We did not consider this programme was in breach of our rules.
Ofcom has imposed a £75,000 fine on City News Network for failing to provide adequate protection for viewers.
The service Channel 44 -- an Urdu-language news and current affairs channel -- broadcast hate speech and material
containing abusive treatment of the Ahmadiyya community.
Under the Broadcasting Code, licensees must not broadcast material which contains uncontextualised hate speech and abusive treatment of groups, religions or communities.
After an investigation, Ofcom concluded that the serious nature of the breaches of the Broadcasting Code warranted the imposition of statutory sanctions. These include a financial penalty and a direction to the broadcaster to
broadcast a statement of Ofcom's findings on a date and in a form to be determined by Ofcom.
The fine of £75,000 will be paid by City News Network to HM Paymaster General.
Following an investigation, Ofcom has revoked the broadcast licence held by Ausaf UK Limited for Ausaf TV, a channel which was intended to serve the Pakistani community in the UK, but had not started broadcasting at the time of Ofcom's decision.
In line with our ongoing duty under the Broadcasting Act 1990, Ofcom opened an investigation into the licensee about whether those in control were 'fit and proper' to hold the licence.
considering all available evidence, including oral representations made by the licensee, our investigation concluded that:
the individual in control of Ausaf UK Limited had close links to the Pakistan and UK editions of the Daily Ausaf newspaper, in which articles were published which we considered amounted to hate speech and incitement to
the licensee provided misleading or false information about the links between the Daily Ausaf and Ausaf UK Limited during the course of our investigation; and
there is a
material risk that the licensee could breach our broadcasting rules; for example, by airing similar content to that published in the Daily Ausaf on Ausaf TV, which would be harmful to viewers if the licensee were permitted to broadcast; and
this brings into question public confidence in the regulatory activity if Ofcom were to remain satisfied that the licensee was fit and proper to broadcast.
In light of these serious findings, we are no longer satisfied that that those in control of Ausaf UK Limited are fit and proper to hold a broadcast licence. We have therefore revoked the licence.
had not started broadcasting, and it will now be prevented from doing so.
Notice of Licence Revocation Iman Media UK Limited
Iman FM is a community radio station broadcasting to the Muslim community in Sheffield and the surrounding areas. The licence for this service is held by Iman Media UK Limited.
revocation concerns the broadcast of a number of lectures by Anwar al-Awlaki throughout the holy month of Ramadan. In breach decisions published on 5 July 2017 and 27 July 20174, Ofcom found that the broadcast of the lectures breached a number of rules
including Rule 3.1 of the Code:
Material likely to encourage or incite the commission of crime or to lead to disorder must not be included in television or radio services.
Ofcom considered the
breaches of Rule 3.1 to be extremely serious. Ofcom wrote in the Complaints Bulletin:
In Ofcom's view the cumulative effect was to condone, promote and encourage violent behaviour towards non-Muslim people.
Further, the lectures appeared to link violent acts of the past with actions that might potentially be taken today. Ofcom took the view that the content therefore amounted to a call to action which was likely to encourage or incite the commission of
crime or lead to disorder.
It is also our view the material amounted to hate speech, as it was both abusive and derogatory towards non-Muslim people, and in particular, Jewish people. In our view, this content had clear potential
to be highly offensive
Under section 111B of the Broadcasting Act 1990, in certain circumstances Ofcom may suspend a licence if the licence holder has broadcast material likely to encourage or incite the commission of a crime or lead
to disorder. After considering the Licensee’s representations, Ofcom may then revoke the licence if it is satisfied it is necessary in the public interest to do so.
Ofcom served a suspension notice on the Licensee on 4 July 2017.
Ofcom’s view the contraventions of the Code and the Licensee’s compliance failures were so extremely serious, and the Licensee’s conduct was so extremely reckless, that we had no confidence that the Licensee would be capable of complying with its licence
conditions or that similar breaches would be prevented in the future. On this basis, in Ofcom’s view it was necessary in the public interest to revoke the licence and proportionate to decide that these breaches and failures justified the revocation.
Ofcom also considered that the Licensee’s failures rendered it unfit to hold a broadcast licence.
On 20 July 2016, Ariana International broadcast a news item which featured a video produced by an individual, Muhammad Riyad, before he carried out a terrorist attack on a train in Germany where he injured five people. Ofcom wrote:
Ariana International is a general entertainment channel originating from Afghanistan, and broadcast by satellite in the UK.
On 20 July 2016, the Licensee broadcast a news item which featured a video produced by
an individual, Muhammad Riyad, before he carried out an attack on a train in Germany where he injured five people.
In the video, Muhammad Riyad stated that he was a "Mujahid [holy warrior] of Islamic State". He also
stated his and ISIL's intentions to carry out acts of extreme violence against members of the public and his words could be interpreted as being a direct call to action to members of the Muslim community to join ISIL and to commit violence, up to, and
including murder, against members of the police and the army in the West.
The news item made clear that "Daish" have now accepted that this young man [i.e. Mr Riyad] was one of their followers". In addition, it has
bee n widely reported that several individuals, such as Muhammad Riyad, have been inspired to carry out acts of violence in the name of ISIL.
Ofcom's Executive found that material in the Ariana News programme breached Rules 2.3, 3.1
and 3.2 of the Code.
Rule 3.1: Material likely to encourage or to incite the commission of crime or to lead to disorder must not be included in television or radio services.
Rule 3.2: Material
which contains hate speech must not be included in television and radio programmes except where it is justified by the context.
Ofcom's Decision is that the appropriate sanction should be a financial penalty of £200,000. Ofcom also
considers that the Licensee should be directed to broadcast a statement of Ofcom's findings, on a date and in a form to be determined by Ofcom.
Noor TV is a digital satellite television channel broadcasting religious and other programming in Urdu from an Islamic perspective to audiences in the UK and internationally.
On 17 November 2015, the Licensee broadcast the second instalment of a
series of four programmes which had been recorded at the Urs Nehrian festival in Pakistan that had taken place in June 2015. The programme consisted of 15 religious scholars and preachers addressing an assembled congregation with short sermons, homilies
and poetic verses.
One of the speakers, Allama Mufti Muhammad Saeed Sialvi Sahib (“Allama Sialvi”), recounted a parable in which he stated that the Prophet Muhammed had given a general command to kill all Jewish people. He stated that upon hearing
this command one Muslim follower had immediately killed a Jewish trader with whom he had long standing business relations. Allama Sialvi held this to be an example of the devotion and obedience of a disciple to the Prophet Muhammed and on several
occasions appeared to condone the killing of a Jewish trader.
We noted that Allama Sialvi held the titles “Mufti” and “Allama”, denoting that he was a figure of religious authority within the Muslim community, and therefore someone whose views
would carry some weight within the Muslim community.
We considered that Allama Sialvi's clear statement that religious obedience within the Islamic faith could be demonstrated through murder of Jewish people had the potential to be interpreted as
spreading anti-Semitism, i.e. his comments could amount to a form of hate speech . In this context we were mindful of the Council of Europe's definition of' hate speech', as follows: all forms of expression which spread, incite, promote or
justify racial hatred, xenophobia, anti-Semitism or other forms of hatred based on intolerance, including: intolerance expressed by aggressive nationalism and ethnocentrism, discrimination and hostility against minorities, migrants and people of
We considered that Allama Sialvi's speech, particularly due to his standing and authority within the Muslim community, involved clear potential to cause significant offence as it held up in unequivocal terms the killing of a
Jewish person as an example of devotion and obedience within the context of the Islamic faith. We also considered that the content had the potential to cause harm by portraying the murder of Jewish people in highly positive terms and promoting a highly
negative anti-Semitic attitude towards Jewish people.
Ofcom's Decision is that an appropriate and proportionate sanction would be a financial penalty of £75,000. In addition, Ofcom considers that the Licensee should broadcast a statement of
Ofcom's findings in this case, on a date and in a form to be determined by Ofcom.
Britain's TV censor, Ofcom, has fined Peace TV Urdu £65,000 for discriminatory remarks about the jewish community.
Peace TV Urdu is part of Zakir Naik's Peace TV group based in India. The group is currently under Indian government scrutiny and
the process has been initiated to declare them terrorist entities under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act. The channel is also banned in Bangladesh after the Dhaka Terror Attack on advice of the internal security agencies.
Ofcom found the
broadcast of the public lectures by an Islamic scholar highly critical and potentially offensive to the Jewish people. This was broadcast on September 12 and 13 on Peace TV Urdu.
Ofcom highlighted a number of discriminatory remarks made about the
Jewish people as an ethnic group in the lectures delivered by Islamic scholar Israr Ahmed who died in April 2010. The role and actions of the Jewish people through history from c.1500 to the present day were examined in the lectures that had comments
like this cursed people, this cursed race , found to be offensive under Ofcom's rules.
Ofcom observes that the breach of the code was serious as the content included numerous examples of overwhelmingly negative and stereotypical references
to Jewish people which, in its view, were a form of hate speech. The sanctions document notes:
Ofcom was concerned that the highly critical and negative statements made about Jewish people , uninterrupted by an
individual likely to be held in high status by the viewers of Peace TV Urdu had the clear potential to cause harm by portraying Jewish people in highly negative terms.
Peace TV expressed its sincere regret and acknowledged that the
programme should not have been broadcast.
Ofcom announced in its latest complaints bulletin that it would be keeping a beady eye on religious broadcasters:
Targeted monitoring exercise: religious programming
Recent sanctions and
investigations by Ofcom into religious programming have highlighted concerns around the compliance of religious content with the Broadcasting Code.
Ofcom therefore formally notifies broadcasters that we are conducting a targeted
monitoring exercise of television services which broadcast religious programmes.
Broadcasters are put on notice that any serious or repeated failings in this area will result in Ofcom taking further regulatory action, for example,
the consideration of the imposition of statutory sanctions.
Al Ehya Digital Television Ltd in respect of its service Noor TV has been fined £85,000 for inciting violence.
The programme Paigham-e-Mustafa was found to be in breach of Ofcom's Broadcasting Code rules:
Rule 3.1: Material likely to encourage or incite the commission of crime or to lead to disorder must not be included in television or radio services.
Rule 4.1: Broadcasters must exercise the proper degree of responsibility with
respect to the content of programmes which are religious programmes.
Noor TV is a digital satellite television channel that broadcasts programmes about Islam in a number of languages, including English, Urdu and Punjabi. It can be received in the United Kingdom, Europe, Africa, the Middle East and Asia.
Finding related to the programme Paigham-e-Mustafa, broadcast on 3 May 2012. The programme featured a presenter, Allama Muhammad Farooq Nizami who answered questions about a wide range of issues and personal conduct relating to Islam and Islamic
At approximately one hour and 18 minutes into the programme Nizami answered a question from a caller, who was identified as brother Yasir Hanif who asked: What is the punishment for the individual who shows disrespect for Prophet
Muhammad? Nizami responded:
There is no disagreement about this [the punishment]; there is absolutely no doubt about it that the punishment for the person who shows disrespect for the Prophet is death. No one [among the Islamic
scholars] disagrees about this. No one disagrees about this. The Koran, hadeeth [orally transmitted quotes of Muhammad], the actions of the companions of Prophet Muhammad, all testify to this [punishment] and there is no room for doubt in it. Whoever
shows disrespect for Prophet Muhammad will be given death penalty. The procedure for carrying out the death penalty is that if there is an Islamic government operating in a country, then the Islamic government will carry out the implementation of this
punishment to the one who shows disrespect for the Prophet. However, if there are no Islamic laws [implemented], if Islamic Law is not being abided by, if the Islamic Law is being shredded and is in tatters, and this environment prevails in Pakistan,
then [drops the sentence]. You saw a few months ago, a man specifically said that the Islamic law which was especially designed to protect the sanctity of Prophet Muhammad, whom Allah praises and protects, was a black law. By saying so, he slighted the
law and committed insolence against Prophet Muhammad. Then what happened? You saw what happened. The man who did it [killed the Governor] is Mumtaz Hussein. He is a Ghazi and we can absolutely not say that his act was a wrong act [because] the Koran and
hadeeth [orally transmitted traditions], testify that the punishment of the one who shows disrespect for the Prophet is death.
Ofcom considered the breach of Rule 3.1 in this case was particularly serious given the wide audience reach
of the channel and the fact that the statements were delivered to a Muslim audience, in a religious programme, by a presenter who was held out to be an expert on Islamic teaching; a person who holds a position of authority and respect within the Muslim
community, speaking direct to camera. Taken together, these factors would have given the comments extra weight. The seriousness of the breaches was further compounded by the fact that the Programme made no condemnation of any killing or violent action by
individuals in response to a perceived insult to, or perceived blasphemy against, Mohammed.
The potential for these comments to be acted upon is demonstrated by evidence of a number of very serious threats and attacks having been made in Western
countries against individuals or entities perceived as insulting or making pejorative remarks about the Prophet Mohammed. Dutch filmmaker Theo Van Gogh was murdered by Muhammad Bouyeri in 2004 following the condemnation of his film Submission by
Islamic clerics, and in the same year Danish cartoonists received death threats following the publication of illustrations which included depictions of the Prophet Mohammed. In November 2011, there was a fire bomb attack on a magazine in Paris for
publishing a satirical cartoon of the Prophet Mohammed.
Takbeer TV Ltd has been fined £25,000 for breaches of Ofcom's Broadcasting Code:
Rule 4.1: Broadcasters must exercise the proper degree of responsibility with respect to the content of programmes which are religious programmes.
Rule 4.2: The religious views and beliefs of those belonging to a particular
religion or religious denomination must not be subject to abusive treatment.
Two programmes, both of which were broadcast in Urdu:
Global Khatm-E-Nabuwat Movement – Broadcast on 9 June 2012 at 22:00, this was a two and a quarter hour ‘phone-in’ programme in which a panel of four people answered telephone callers’
questions on issues of Islamic theology;
Ofcom noted that:
members of the Ahmadi community were described in words that amounted to abusive treatment of the Ahmadiyya religion and the Ahmadi community more generally. For example, they were described as having monstrous intentions and being both lying monsters
and worthy of elimination by Allah, by using worms and vermin ;
one of the panellists and a caller made statements that were highly abusive to members of the Ahmadi community and their beliefs, by, for example, equating such beliefs
to having piles and agreeing that Ahmadis require operating on ... without ... anaesthesia ; and
two callers made sustained, repeated and derogatory references to Mirza Ghulam Ahmad Qadiani, founder of the Ahmadiyya religion ,
stating, for example, that the whole world knows... Mirza died in a shit cubicle.
Khatm-E-Nabuwat – Broadcast on 3 July 2012 at 22:00, this was a two hour programme that showed the proceedings of a symposium4 on Islamic themes held in Luton.
Ofcom noted in particular that the presenter:
stated that Ahmadi holy books were: replete with filth ;
Sangat TV is a general entertainment satellite broadcaster that broadcasts in English and Punjabi. It is based in Birmingham and broadcasts via the Eutelsat 28A, Sky UK satellite to the Sikh community. The licence for Sangat TV is held by Regis Ltd.
Ofcom had already found Sangat TV to be in breach of Ofcom rule 3.1 in finding published on 21 January 2013 in Broadcast Bulletin 2224. Rule 3.1 states:
Material likely to encourage or incite the commission of crime or to lead to disorder must not be included in television or radio services.
The Finding related to a programme about the attack on
Lieutenant-General Brar, which was broadcast on 1 October 2012. This was broadcast almost entirely in Punjabi, was approximately half an hour in duration and comprised eight panellists, including a presenter, who discussed issues surrounding the attack.
It had been reported that on a date shortly before the broadcast, while on a visit to London, Lieutenant-General Brar and his wife had been attacked in a central London street by four men. Despite suffering knife injuries, Lieutenant-General Brar
survived the attack. In the Finding, Ofcom noted that, in relation to the attack, two men of Sikh origin had been charged with wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm.
Ofcom found that the programme was likely to encourage or incite the
commission of crime. We considered that, cumulatively, statements in the programme were an indirect call to action to members of the Sikh community to take violent action against Lieutenant-General Brar, other members of the Indian armed forces who
had taken part in Operation Bluestar (the Indian Army's controversial military operation against the Golden Temple at Amritsar in June 1984)7 or those who supported this military operation.
Ofcom decided it was appropriate and proportionate in the
circumstances to impose a financial penalty of £30,000 on the Licensee in respect of the breach of Rule 3.1. In addition, Ofcom decided it should issue a direction to the Licensee to broadcast a statement of Ofcom's findings, on a date and in a
form to be determined by Ofcom.
Ofcom has fined the muslim channel DM Digital £105,000 for 2 transgressions of Ofcom's programme code.
DM Digital is a television channel primarily aimed at an Asian audience in the UK, which features broadcasts in a number of languages
including English, Punjabi, Urdu, Sindhi, Kashmiri and Hindi. The service is also received in the Middle East and parts of Asia. The licence for this channel is held by DM Digital Television Limited.
The first fine was £85,000 over the
programme Rehmatul Lil Alameen broadcast on 9th October 2011 at 18:30.
The programme was in Urdu and was approximately one hour in duration, featured a presenter who introduced an Islamic Pir (a religious 'scholar') who delivered a live
televised lecture about points of Islamic theology with reference to the shooting dead in early 2011 of the Punjab governor Salmaan Taseer by his bodyguard Malik Mumtaz Qadri. Salmaan Taseer had been a vocal critic of Pakistan's blasphemy law.
Ofcom noted in particular the following remarks from Abdul Qadir Jilani's lecture:
Under the guidance from Islamic texts it is evident that if a Muslim apostatises, then it is not right to wait for the authorised courts; anyone may kill him . An apostate deserves to be killed and any man may kill
him. For this, you do not need to contact the authorised courts. Because the prophet did not question Omar's act.
...if someone denies the existence of God, you may have a defensive war with them but if someone insults the
Prophet, you should not be defensive but you should aggressively attack them. You should go to their homes and fight them there .
The man who has killed [Salmaan Taseer] has done an act of great love and proved his loyalty. It was
his duty to do so. Some people say that he was supposed to guard [Salmaan Taseer] but a man's first duty is to protect his father and Abu Ubaydah killed his own father because the latter denied the apostolate of Prophet Mohammed….When Abu Ubaydah killed
his father, Allah praised him because he had killed in the love of the Prophet Muhammed. Such an act does not fall into the category of terrorism .
I hail those who made this law [i.e. Pakistan's blasphemy law] which states that
one who insults the Prophet deserves to be killed – such a person should be eliminated .
The programme was found to have breeched Rule 3.1: Material likely to encourage or incite the commission of crime or to lead to disorder must
not be included in television or radio services .
Having regard to the serious nature of the Code breach, the Licensee's representations and the Ofcom Penalty Guidelines, Ofcom decided it was appropriate and proportionate in the circumstances
to impose a financial penalty of £85,000 on the Licensee in respect of the breach of Rule 3.1.
The second transgression was by the programme POAF Conference on DM Digital, 25th November 2011 at 19:00 and 4th December 2011 at
21:00. Ofcom found this programme fsimilarly in breach of their rules and imposed a financial penalty of £20,000
Comment: So why have there been no criminal charges?
A question reflecting other comments to Melon
Terry Sanderson, President of the National Secular Society, said:
Inciting murder is against the law. Why aren't the police knocking on Mr Jilani's door? Why is he not under arrest? Surely he cannot be allowed to
get away with such blatant call to kill innocent people? Other people have been sent to prison for far less than this.
Believe TV 21 and 22 December 2010, 4 January 2011 and 1 February 2011
Believe TV is a service which broadcasts Christian programming. The channel broadcasts programmes which include testimony , where members of the churches featured
proclaim how health problems, financial issues or other personal matters have been alleviated through healing from a pastor or other religious leader and their faith in God. Believe TV also features other Christian programming including preaching and
healing from churches in the UK and around the world.
The licence for Believe TV is held by The Light Academy Limited.
In January 2011 the Advertising Standards Authority ( ASA ) informed Ofcom that it had written to the Licensee
regarding the broadcast on Believe TV of two programmes, featuring the televangelist. Paul Lewis, on 21 and 22 December 2010. Both programmes featured Paul Lewis's Miracle Olive Oil Soap . which it was claimed has healing properties that can cure
serious illnesses such as cancer.
The ASA informed Light Academy that these broadcasts contained similar claims by Paul Lewis to those which had already been the subject of an ASA adjudication in May 2007. Further, the ASA advised the Licensee
that Ofcom had also previously recorded breaches of the Broadcasting Code in relation to content containing similar claims by Paul Lewis that had been transmitted by two other broadcasters in 2008.
In response to the ASA, the Light Academy
confirmed that Paul Lewis Ministries content had now been removed from its schedules as of 24 December 2010 onwards, and that in any event the content was editorial and not advertising.
The ASA therefore referred the material to Ofcom for further
investigation, as well as further material broadcast on Believe TV (not featuring Paul Lewis) the ASA had recorded on 4 January 2011.
Ofcom reviewed this material and agreed that the content being investigated in this case should be regarded as
editorial and not advertising and therefore that the Code applied. Separately Ofcom was also concerned that other material broadcast on Believe TV, on these three dates, contained examples of potentially unsubstantiated and dangerous claims about the
healing of serious conditions such as infertility and cancer.
Ofcom considered that such material raised potentially serious issues under the Code. In particular, Ofcom was concerned about the risk that as a result of watching the testimonies
and preaching, viewers with serious medical conditions would either not seek or discontinue conventional medical treatment.
Ofcom also notified the Licensee of its concerns about the apparent promotion of products such as CDs and DVDs in some
of its programming.
Ofcom noted further broadcast content which raised similar issues, for example:
hCancer healing testimonies and claims.
Members of the congregation claiming to give up their medication as a result of the receiving healing at the church.
Members of the congregation claiming to have disregarded conventional
medical advice and treatment in favour of healing at the church.
Infertility healing testimonies and claims.
Claims of healing of other serious medical illnesses, for example: blood pressure problems, heart disease and drug and alcohol
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.
Rule 10.2: Broadcasters must ensure that the advertising and programme elements of a service are kept separate.
Rule 10.3: Products and services must not be promoted in programmes. This rule does not apply to programme-related material.
Ofcom Decision: In Breach
Given that some viewers who may have watched this material may also have been suffering from serious medical conditions, and were therefore likely to be in a vulnerable state, Ofcom also concluded
that this material clearly had the potential to cause harm, and possibly very serious harm. In view of the fact that the Licensee did not take steps to provide viewers with adequate protection from this potential harm by providing any context to the
claims made, Ofcom concluded that the Licensee did not apply generally accepted standards. Rule 2.1 was therefore breached.
Given that the content was also soliciting a response from viewers and such individuals experiencing serious illnesses may
be vulnerable to the healing claims being made, Ofcom concluded that there was a material risk that susceptible members of the audience may be exploited by the material broadcast on Believe TV. This was a breach of Rule 4.6.
Ofcom also considered
that the references to the products were made in such a highly promotional manner that they appeared akin to advertising within a programme. Ofcom therefore also found the programmes in breach of Rule 10.2 and 10.3 of the Code.
broadcast material where there was a likelihood that significant potential harm may have resulted. It is Ofcom's view that any material broadcast which may lead to a material risk to the health and safety of the audience must always be considered a
significant breach of the Code.
In deciding what further regulatory action to take in this case. Ofcom considered that at no time were steps taken by the Licensee to provide adequate protection to members of the public from harm or exploitation,
taking into account the fact that the self selecting audience of Believe TV, given that it is a religious service, may have been less likely to question the potentially harmful and exploitative content broadcast.
The Licensee is put on notice that
the breaches of Rules 2.1 and 4.6 in this case are being considered for the imposition of a statutory sanction.