Ofcom, the UK’s communications regulator, has sanctioned LoveWorld Television Ministry, a Christian network founded by Chris Oyakhilome, for airing “potentially harmful statements” about the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to the regulator in a statement released on Monday, programmes aired in early April by Oyakhilome’s LoveWorld perpetuated baseless conspiracy that the virus is linked to the roll-out of 5G phone networks and insinuations of a “global coverup”.
Ofcom said the LoveWorld programme also echoed claims from US president Donald Trump that an anti-malaria drug, hydroxychloroquine, was a cure for the virus.
“LoveWorld News featured potentially harmful statements about the coronavirus pandemic and adequate protection was not provided to viewers,” the statement from Ofcom said.
“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 statement added.
Oyakhilome’s Loveworld, also known as Christ Embassy, is based in Lagos but has operations in several countries across the world, including the United States and the United Kingdom.
The church has at least 90 branches in the UK and an estimated 13 million followers around the world, according to one estimate.
In footage of sermons circulated on social media during the pandemic, Oyakhilome has been seen criticising lockdown measures and casting aspersions on the value of a vaccine.