Asian Christian channel Glory TV, has been rapped by Ofcom for regularly appealing for donations to fund its programming.
While screening such appeals to sustain the channel is not against broadcast rules and regulations, Ofcom said the audience must be told of the purpose of the donation and how much has been raised as a result of the appeal. All donations must be separately accounted for and used for the purpose for which they were donated.
Glory TV said it did not carry advertising or sponsorship and therefore it relies on donations from viewers. The channel was launched in March 2008, but did not begin to appeal for funds on air until June 2008.
The broadcaster said that it had spent all the money it had raised through the appeals on broadcast services such as playout facilities and its slot on the Sky platform. It provided Ofcom with bank statements as evidence of the donations it had received since June 2008 as well as supplier invoices as evidence of its expenditure.
Glory TV said that during its appeals it frequently informed viewers of the purpose of the donations and how much money it had raised. It added that it had also made a documentary to be broadcast on the channel to show its viewers the studio and playout facilities that it hires with the donations raised through broadcast appeals.
Having assessed the documentary evidence requested from Glory TV, Ofcom noted that the amount which Glory TV had spent on running the channel in this instance, its playout facilities and its slot on the Sky platform, was greater than the amount raised from donations. Ofcom therefore concluded that there was no evidence that the funds raised by the appeals were used for any purpose other than to fund the running of the channel.
While Glory TV told Ofcom that it does not believe that its programming is exploitative, Ofcom considers that vulnerable people, such as those experiencing financial or emotional difficulties, may be encouraged to give large donations. In particular, Ofcom considers that persuading viewers to donate money on the basis of inducements such as better health; that God will create further wealth to donors; and that God will take particular care of donors is unacceptable. The channel came in-breach of this rule.
During an appeal for funds broadcast on 7th January 2009, the presenter offered ten CDs to viewers who pledged to donate 100 per month and a choice of one of the ten CDs to viewers who pledged to donate 50 per month. During another appeal for funds broadcast on 9th
January 2009, the presenter offered two of the studio guest۪s CDs to
viewers who donated 100 and one of his CDs to viewers who donated 50. During the appeal both the presenter and the guest referred to the CDs and also to the guest’s website.
Ofcom felt there was no editorial justification for the detail given about the content of the CDs in these programmes which were appeals for funds for the channel. Therefore the references to the CDs, and the reference to the guest۪s website, were unduly prominent. Ofcom considered that the nature of these references served to promote both the CDs and the guest۪s website.
Recently, a handful of Asian religious TV channels have commenced appeals to survive – The Sikh Channel, AT Global (pre-Ramadan) and Ahlebait TV.