Ofcom upholds Venus TV complaint against MATV

Venus TV
Venus TV

Ofcom has upheld this complaint of unjust or unfair treatment in the programme as broadcast made by Venus TV.

The live programme presented by Pastor Nzubila aired on MATV in April 2014 focused on religious matters. Pastor Salomon was a guest on the programme and he encouraged viewers to call in and donate money to help fund the programme. He said: “Yesterday, I went to Venus TV and the people there ��� the white owner and Brother Henry ��� ran away. We believed in Brother Henry, we trusted him with our money and until now I still haven�۪t received my money back from him. Yesterday, the show did not happen because they knew I was about. These are all false brothers who have come into the Lord�۪s fields�۝.

Venus TV complained that it was treated unjustly or unfairly in the programme as broadcast because a guest on the programme, Pastor Salomon, alleged that the owner of Venus TV and one of its employees had taken money from him. It said that the allegation was ���false�۝ and ���baseless�۝ and had ���no connection with Venus TV�۝. Venus TV said that the aim of the comments was to: ���…malign the reputation of our channel�۝ and that they had: ���…caused Venus TV a substantial loss to his [sic] reputation and business�۝.

Ofcom found that the comments made in the programme relating to Venus TV were likely to materially and adversely affect viewers�۪ perception of Venus TV in a way that was unfair. Ofcom considered that the comments were serious in nature and suggested that Venus TV had been involved in dishonest conduct in relation the money Pastor Salomon claimed he was owed by Venus TV. Consequently, Ofcom considered that the broadcaster (MATV) did not take reasonable care to satisfy itself that material facts in relation to Venus TV were presented in the programme in a way that was fair to it.

MATV stated it did not know who Pastor Salomon was referring to when he spoke of ���the white owner�۝ of Venus TV as it said that Mr Ali, was not a ���white man�۝. The broadcaster also added that Mr Ali was not the kind of person who would ���run away�۝ for �1,460 and that Venus TV was overreacting in making the complaint.

Ofcom noted that MATV provided no evidence that it had taken any appropriate steps before the live broadcast in this regard, for example by advising Pastor Salomon to take care about any allegations he might make. More significantly, Ofcom noted that during the programme the presenter did not attempt to place Pastor Salomon�۪s comments in any form of context by explaining, for example, that the information was unverified, or by challenging or querying its background or basis, or that his comments only reflected Pastor Salomon�۪s personal views. Further, Ofcom was not provided with any evidence from the broadcaster to show that the programme makers had made any attempt to contact Venus TV before, during or after the broadcast to verify or seek his comments on whether or not there was any truth in the claims made.

Ofcom considered that, in the circumstances of this case, the broadcaster (MATV) did not take reasonable care to satisfy itself that material facts had not been presented, disregarded or omitted in a way that was unfair to Venus TV.

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