Ofcom has decided not to impose any further sanction on Loveworld Limited after two programmes were broadcast on its religious service Loveworld Television Network that featured potentially harmful statements about the coronavirus pandemic. It has already been required to broadcast summaries of Ofcom’s findings for both programmes.
Our investigation found that a report on Loveworld News included unsubstantiated claims that 5G was the cause of the pandemic, and that this was the subject of a “global cover-up”. Another report during the programme presented hydroxychloroquine as a “cure” for Covid-19, without acknowledging that its effectiveness and safety as a treatment was clinically unproven, or making clear that it has potentially serious side effects. These reports were presented as facts without evidence or challenge.
A sermon broadcast on Your Loveworld also included unsubstantiated claims linking the pandemic to 5G technology; as well as claims which cast serious doubt on the necessity for lockdown measures and the motives behind official health advice on Covid-19, including in relation to vaccination. These views were presented as facts without evidence or challenge.
Ofcom stresses that there is no prohibition on broadcasting controversial views which diverge from, or challenge, official authorities on public health information. However, given the unsubstantiated claims in both these programmes were not sufficiently put into context, they risked undermining viewers’ trust in official health advice, with potentially serious consequences for public health. Loveworld Limited therefore failed to ensure that viewers were adequately protected. As a result, we directed Loveworld Limited to broadcast a summary of our finding in relation to Loveworld News on 26 May 2020 at 15:00 and a summary of our finding in relation to Your Loveworld on 26 May 2020 at 20:30.
Ofcom subsequently considered whether imposing any further sanction in addition to the directions would be appropriate in this instance. Ofcom concluded that the directions it had already imposed on Loveworld Limited to broadcast statements of Ofcom’s findings was sufficient in remedying potentially significant harm to viewers and that any further sanction would not be appropriate in this case. Ofcom’s decision not to impose any further sanction on Loveworld Limited was published on 22 June 2020.