An Islamic TV channel that encouraged viewers to donate money in return for prayers has been fined £75,000 by Ofcom.
The media regulator said “susceptible members of the audience may have been persuaded to donate money to Noor TV when they would not otherwise have done so”.
Noor TV, which is owned by Al Ehya Digital Television, broadcasts on the Sky satellite service. Ofcom took action after the channel’s Saturday Night Special programme which was broadcast on 13 November last year. It included the offer of a “special gift” for a donation of £1,000 or the offer of a prayer that would improve the health, wealth and good fortune of the donor and their family.
Ofcom said it was “extremely concerned that although viewers were told that their donations were for the purpose of funding Noor TV’s programming, the funds donated … were not in fact received by Noor TV and therefore were not used for their stated purpose”.
The regulator added: “Viewers should not be invited to make a donation in return for anything other than to make programmes or the provision of the service.
“Further, appeals for funds should not improperly exploit the susceptibilities of the audience. Ofcom considered that vulnerable people, such as those experiencing financial or emotional difficulties, may be unduly encouraged to give donations.
“In particular, Ofcom considered it unacceptable for a licensee to persuade viewers to donate money on the basis of inducements such as offering a prayer for or on behalf of the donor; the promise of better health; or that a religious figure will create further wealth for donors or take particular care of donors.”
The £75,000 penalty is payable to the government.