Akaal Channel has been rapped by Ofcom for broadcasting a health based show featuring advice by Ayurvedic
practitioner, Subhash Goyal, on 14th November 2016.
The presenter of the show discussed with Goyal his 45-day treatment programme for drug and alcohol addiction.
Ofcom was in particular concerned with Goyal’s claims of Ayurvedic treatment. In one of the extracts published by Ofcom, Goyal said, “…we started this organisation back in 1992 and there is a long process that has evolved during that time, and we now have a system by which we can offer treatment for patients and thus wean them off their addiction…”
He added, “Within the 45-day period we need to ensure that that person’s body is brought back to the same state that it was before he became addicted…I say that you should first order 25 days’ worth of medicine and then assess after 15 days and if you feel that what I say is correct and that it is having some positive effect, then you should order more only in that situation. The fact is that my medicines will work from the first day and you will stop using intoxicants straight away. Therefore, if you feel that the medicines are working then, after 15 days, order more and before the 20th day you will receive more medicines, so that there is no break in the cycle of medication. Of course, there are some who have such faith in me that they take the full 45 days of medication straight away, and that is fine too. But, in general, I recommend that they take only 25 days of medicines”.
In response to Ofcom’s investigation, Akaal Channel said that show was acquired from the producer of the series, which was based in India. In response to Ofcom’s Preliminary View, it clarified that the programme was not produced for the UK market.
The channel also said that Goyal was a regular guest in the series, the principal focus of which was to “[share] information with the audience on options for treatments available”. It added that “the Punjab region is in the grip of a major drug crisis”. Akaal Channel said that, “in this episode, the theme [was] addiction, with the aim to ensure that the family of addicts know there’s help and do not feel isolated”.
Akaal Channel added that Goyal worked in India and is “well known for his work dealing with drug addiction” and it provided Ofcom with a copy of Goyal’s University qualification in “Pharmacy-Ayurveda”. In response to Ofcom’s Preliminary View, the Licensee reiterated that “the drugs problem [in] the Punjab where Dr Goyal works is of [real] concern to [its] community”. Akaal Channel clarified that the treatment discussed in the programme was not available in the UK and therefore requested that Ofcom remove reference to it not being licensed by the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency.
Akaal Channel confirmed that the telephone numbers displayed in a caption throughout the broadcast were “linked to Dr Subhash Goyal”. The Licensee said their purpose was “to give families of addicts a help line to call for support”, adding that it was “unaware of any services offered by Dr Goyal in relation to these numbers”. It explained that “the programme producer has a range of different relationships with those that they work with”, which “are often used by way of encouraging contributors to the programmes”.
Ofcom concluded that it was particularly concerned with any failure by broadcasters to provide adequate protection from potentially harmful material in programmes offering advice on serious health conditions. Ofcom is putting the Licensee on notice that any recurrence of breaches of this nature may lead to Ofcom considering the imposition of a statutory sanction. Ofcom is also requesting that the Licensee attends a meeting with Ofcom to discuss its approach to
compliance in this area.
The channel was found in breach of three rules.