Media regulator Ofcom has launched a major investigation into British Muslim TV stations that have been helping to raise vast sums of money for overseas mosques and madrassas.
According to a report in the DailyExpress, the channels in question are Channel S, ATN Bangla, Bangla TV and Iqra TV, who have been accused of “fraudster” dealings.
These channels, which broadcast on Sky Digital, have been airing all night “fundathon” appeals during the current Muslim holy month of Ramadhan.
The report further adds that much of the money is being raised by organisations in Pakistan and Bangladesh that have often just registered as UK charities.
The charities urge Muslim viewers, many of them poor, to seek salvation by donating during Ramadan.
Channels have been announcing that they are raking in more than 100,000 a night. Ofcom has been monitoring the broadcasts and is now investigating whether its rules have been broken.
Under its code, broadcasters can only run appeals if they do not charge for airtime.
However, a Sunday Express investigation has discovered that charities are being asked to pay up to 15,000 for an all night slot with viewers unaware that donations are being used to cover those costs.
There is no suggestion that any channel or charities broadcasting appeals are involved with terrorist activity.
According to Ofcom, licences for all channels are held by Channel S Global Ltd, a company founded by, and still run from, the east London offices of Mohammed Ferdhaus, a 36-year-old businessman sentenced in August last year to 18 months in jail for an insurance fraud.
He served four months and launched an appeal against his conviction in July.
A manager at ATN Bangla said that it had raised 181,000 in just one night for the Bangladeshi Islami University in Dhaka, an institution that registered as a UK charity just last year and which has no financial history in Britain.
An Ofcom spokesman said, “We take the protection of viewers extremely seriously and when our rules are broken, we take firm action.
“We are currently investigating the matters raised.”
In the last few months, a string of Islamic TV and radio channels have launched on the Sky platform including Ahlulbayt TV, Ummah Channel, Ahlebait TV, Peace TV Urdu and ILM Radio. Sunni TV has also commenced a programming block on DM Digital. A new service called Madni Channel and Up and Coming TV are expected to also go live in the coming weeks.