Content provider fined for faith-based advertisement

July 23rd, 2010 - 5:38 pm ICT by IANS  

London, July 23 (IANS) British broadcasting regulator Ofcom has slapped a fine of 17,500 pounds on a digital television network providing Asian content for carrying a faith-based advertisement it said was capable of exploiting the vulnerable.
Manchester-based DM Digital Service broadcasts mainly Urdu content to Asian audiences.

The penalty comes on a case concerning advertisements the channel carried for a “spiritual healer”, Mohammad Zain, who claims to fulfil people’s wishes through his prayers.

The case came to light after a social worker reported to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) in 2009 about a viewer who had contacted Zain after seeing his advertisements in February that year.

The viewer paid Zain on two separate occasions for help in finding a partner.

On the first occasion, she transferred 110 pounds to his bank account and was told to pray for one week. Later, she again transferred 1,400 pounds in return for Zain’s claims that he would find her a “prince”.

The ASA found that the advertisement breached the TV Advertising Standards Code and referred the case to Ofcom. The regulator also concluded that the advertisement breached advertising rules and resulted in actual financial harm to the viewer.

In its note, Ofcom said: “This particular type of unacceptable advertising that represented advice to individuals based on faith based practices for personal problems, was likely to exploit vulnerable viewers.”

Ofcom also pointed out that the breach showed a repeated failure by DM Digital to ensure that the material it carried met with the criteria laid down in the TV Advertising Code.

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