Broadcasts in Britain from an Icelandic company of a controversial faith healer have been found to violate Icelandic law. Peter Popoff, the televangelist in question, professes to be a modern prophet of God and to have the ability to cure illnesses.
RÚV reports that the controversy began with a formal complaint filed by a spokesperson for the Good Thinking Society to Ofcom, the UK’s communications supervisory institution. Popoff’s show, which is broadcast in the UK, purports amongst other things that viewers can receive financial rewards directly from God by buying Popoff’s special “miracle mountain water”.
Upon investigation, Ofcom learned that the broadcasts were directed by Gospel Channel Evrópa, a company based in Iceland. Ofcom then filed a formal complaint with the Ministry of the Interior that these broadcasts violate a number of British laws about truth in advertising.
The Ministry of the Interior’s Media Committee contacted the company’s spokesperson, Eiríkur Sigurbjörnsson, asking for an explanation. Eiríkur replied that no one had previous complained about Popoff’s show, but added that the show has been subject to persecution from people who organise mass complaints of evangelical programming.
The Media Committee, in turn, told Eiríkur it was their conclusion that Popoff’s show violates Icelandic law. While Eiríkur objected, the committee said their conclusion was that the broadcasts were in breach of Article 41(2) regarding timing of advertisements and teleshopping spots, due to the length of the show. The full text of their decision can be read, in English, here.
Gospel Channel Evrópa has managed to avoid any punitive measures for the programme, as Eiríkur said he plans to change the programming schedule in such a way that incidents such as this do not happen again.
CORRECTION: The article originally stated that the committee’s conclusion was based on Icelandic law about truth in advertising; that you cannot sell a product that makes claims which cannot be proven, or are in fact false. This is untrue, and in fact, there are no such prohibitions in Media Act 38/2011, the law cited by the committee. The Grapevine apologises for this error.
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