A Christian TV channel founded by a Nigerian megachurch has been penalised by broadcasting regulator Ofcom for airing “potentially harmful statements” about the coronavirus pandemic.
The LoveWorld Television Ministry, which airs across the world, reportedly made claims that there was a “global cover-up” related to 5G networks being the cause of the outbreak.
In a statement, Ofcom said: “LoveWorld News featured potentially harmful statements about the coronavirus pandemic and adequate protection was not provided to viewers.
“We have imposed a sanction on the broadcaster, requiring it to broadcast statements of our findings. We are considering whether to impose any further sanction."
The channel was founded by Nigerian pastor Christian Oyakhilome, who is the leader of Lagos-based megachurch "Christ Embassy." The church has associated locations across the world, including 90 branches in the UK alone. The programme in question was titled "Why is 5G linked to Covid-19?” and suggested that the telecommunications network was aiding the spread of the virus.
“With the classification of a weapon, 5G technology is very dangerous. When it comes into contact with a human body it can provide some poisons to the cells … This shows that what’s killing people, it’s not coronavirus, but 5G,” a presenter could be heard saying.
The show also ran a piece of footage from Fox News in which a woman claimed to have been healed of covid-19 by taking hydroxychloroquine; a relatively unknown drug that has been thrust into the public gaze recently as a result of comments made by President Donald Trump.
On Monday, Trump announced to the press that he was actively taking hydroxychloroquine — which has been used to treat malaria and lupus — despite public health officials warning it could be unsafe.
"I've been taking it for about a week and a half now and I'm still here, I'm still here," the president explained. "I've heard a lot of good stories [about hydroxychloroquine] and if it's not good, I'll tell you right I'm not going to get hurt by it."
Last year, Christ Embassy was criticised by the UK’s Charity Commission after it discovered “serious misconduct” in the way that the church was run. The watchdog found that the group had made a large number of “informal grants and payments," including more than £1.2m to LoveWorld TV between 2009-2011.