Psychic Today fined by OFCOM

Psychic Readings SignIn a move that might brighten the day of those left disappointed and angry by Sally Morgan’s success in court yesterday, OFCOM has reported that it imposed a financial penalty of £12,5000 on Majestic TV Limited who are responsible for ’Psychic Today’ which is broadcast on Sky Channel 886. The show is a typical Psychic Reading show that encourages viewers to phone the Premium Rate Telephone service (or to send a text message in) to obtain psychic readings either live with one of the presenters on the screen, or in private with an off air psychic.

OFCOM found that three pieces of advertising content broadcast on Psychic Today between May and June 2012 breached UK Code of Broadcast Advertising (BCAP) rules 15.5.3 and 15.5.2

Rule 15.5.2 Advertisements for personalised and live services that rely on belief in astrology, horoscopes, tarot and derivative practices are acceptable only on channels that are licensed for the purpose of the promotion of such services and are appropriately labelled: both the advertisement and the product or service itself must state the product or service is for entertainment purposes only.

Rule 15.5.3 Advertising permitted under Rule 15.5 may not:
• Make claims for efficacy or accuracy;
• Predict negative experiences or specific events;
• Offer life-changing advice directed at individuals – including advice related to health (including pregnancy) or financial situation;
• Appeal particularly to children;
• Encourage excessive use.

One broadcast on Psychic Today included an on-screen graphic which stated that a particular psychic could give “accurate and precise” readings, and during another breach a psychic claimed, rather disturbingly, to have had direct involvement with various police investigations, including the disappearance of Milly Dowler.

Worth noting is the that these breaches occurred following the 2011 publishing of a guidance for broadcasters in respect of psychic television services predicated on PRS . The Guidance (which can be read here) reinforced the fact that Psychic shows must not contain explicit and implicit claims of efficacy or accuracy of the psychic readers and that broadcasters should not solely rely on an on-screen message stating the psychic material is ‘for entertainment purposes only’.

A financial penalty of £10,000 was also imposed on Square 1 Management Limited who are responsible for Big Deal which is broadcast on Freeview on Channel 32 for broadcasting the same ‘Psychic Today’ shows containing the above breaches.

Psychic television shows are a big concern as it can be very tempting for those sat at home who have something on their mind to phone in for a reading, believing the answer or solution they seek lays with those psychics. The only thing guaranteed though, is a massive phone bill at the end of the month. Such channels make for disturbing viewing when you know there are emotionally vulnerable people out there being drawn in like a moth to a flame.

Thank goodness, then, for OFCOM.

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3 Comments to “Psychic Today fined by OFCOM”

  1. “Such channels make for disturbing viewing when you know there are emotionally vulnerable people out there being drawn in like a moth to a flame.”

    True, there are emotionally vulnerable people out there, surely the question should be why are they calling these lines rather than getting help from their community? I’d say it is a symptom of the malaise of our dysfunctional society, people generally just don’t give a fuck about others, especially if their behavior is contrary to the ‘norm’.

    We live in an age of information and media, we know that fags and booze are the greatest threat to our health as a society after cancer, yet people still smoke – too much – and drink – too much. If we can’t get the majority of society to see common sense {especially we “young ‘uns” who grab the main headlines as the Booze and drug generation; and the future depends on us? FFS}, then how can we make the vulnerable minority with flawed thinking, who call a psychic, because their GP thinks they are a hypochondriac, and are lonely because they non-conformist behavior or ‘belief system’ has alienated them from the rest of us.

    Unless they are diagnosed and sectioned, then under law what they do is their own business, we have no more right to tell them what to do with their lives, than they have to tell us what to do with ours. I don’t play computer/console games, I think they are a pathetic waste of life, but folks who play them are forever goading me to play the damn things. People should be adult enough, and emotionally mature enough to know and understand that an adult is responsible for its own actions, even vulnerable ones – until a psychiatrist says otherwise, and no worthy psychiatrist is going to actively encourage them to call “Psychic Cedric” or “Woo-woo Wendy” as part of their getting well.

    If these people are ‘vulnerable’ then society should be doing more for them, but sadly we live in a time when Herr Cameron and his joke of a government place mental health right at the bottom of community welfare, these days, if you are capable of breathing unaided and conscious, you are fit to work.This uncaring government exists in a time when most people are selfish, where they’d rather buy the latest iPhone and iPad, than give a buck or two to some homeless guy.

    I’d also say that, right or wrong, some people are torn about by not being able to make a decision, from to competing job offers to which color dress to where at the prom, in such pretty harmless decisions anyone, psychic, bloke down the pub, ‘Old Mr Jones at number 4″ or even an astrologer is doing good to help end the turmoil, and believe me some people do get in quite the state over such simple things.

    We should be asking why society isn’t doing more for ‘vulnerable’ people.

    • You’re completely right that what people do is their own business. However, they should be able to do what they want without people conning them out of their money by advertising BS services and products.

      Sure we should ask why society isn’t doing more for the vulnerable people, but please don’t use that to excuse the lecherous behaviour of Psychic tricksters.

  2. This issue is debatable, some for the good some for the bad, it helps some a lot more often then even designated people in the counselling field, they give you comfort where as a counsellor can not give you anything to look forward to other then advice and we can get that of our friends, advertising by misleading is another thing but it should be used as entertainment the broadcasting standard says but people don’t take this as entertainment on Any level,for them this reality in its highest order .

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