ARY Digital has been fined 15,000 by media regulator Ofcom over an interview in which a doctor claimed her herbal medicines could cure cancer.

The television channel was found to be in breach of three separate clauses of the Broadcasting Code over an edition of the Urdu-language lifestyle magazine programme, ‘The Weekend Show’.

A consultant surgeon complained about claims made by Dr Surjeet Kaur on an edition of The Weekend Show broadcast on February 18th 2006.

Ofcom launched an investigation into this edition of the programme. It contained a segment in which Dr Surjeet Kaur, who treats various diseases with herbal medicine, was interviewed for about 30 minutes about various illnesses.

During this interview Dr Kaur made various claims not supported by any evidence about ways to treat successfully serious medical conditions, including cancer, sterility, sciatica, psoriasis and leprosy. Dr Kaur said these could all be treated by various alternative health practices, including cooking with garlic, and also by the use of special medicines which were sold by her practice.

Ofcom concluded that ARY Digital allowed Dr Kaur’s claims to be broadcast unchallenged in the programme and without any substantiating scientific evidence. According to Ofcom “this created a material risk that potentially vulnerable viewers, and in particular any suffering from life threatening illnesses such as cancer, would follow this advice and that they might do so without seeking proper medical help.

ARY Digital argued that the English transcript of the programme supplied by Ofcom was inaccurate.

On top of a 15,000 fine, which is payable to the treasury, ARY Digital is also required to broadcast a statement summarising the regulator’s findings at a time yet to be determined.