Psychic Today fined by OFCOM

In 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.

About Hayley Stevens 420 Articles
Hayley is a ghost geek and started to blog in 2007. She uses scientific scepticism to investigate weird stuff and writes about it here while also speaking publicly about how to hunt ghosts as a skeptic.

8 Comments on 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.

    • I agree that emotionally vulnerable and socially isolated individuals head for these services but like you say the government has cut services to a level where many are not being referred for help. Rather than do something drastic if someone can make them believe in an alternate outcome that years off many psychological sessions for them to arrive at that same reasoning. I have used these services from time to time looking for hope in an almost defeated situation . I do also know that the truth is that many predictions haven’t come true Unfortunately but nevertheless if I were to say I believe that it was going to come true as I wished then I have achieve something by asserting faith and faith alone can move mountains (reference bible) . I also believe that a soothing outcome is also healthy considering the stress one would otherWise be under if not the advice been given . That is not to say that psychic should be given a free lease to say what they like . I find that they do actually want to be accurate and the fake ones are easily weeded out in time . Recommendations are always the best method of being informed. I jokingly believe if psychologists advertise their service as psychic they would find more successful outcomes in half the time especially with CBT. There are always two sides to any coin as when tossed the way the coin falls is anyone guess?

  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 .

  3. I too have been conned by psychic today for 7 years and I have been lead to believe that , I have a twin sister whom had been adopted at birth. What’s more is that I’ve been told this twin sister is infact one of the presenters on the show, Charlotte Partlow, whom I have been told by many different psychics over the years is my long lost twin. However Charlotte refuses to comment on this. This has emotionally crushed me. I’d like to sue them for also. Truthfully Mandy

  4. I signed up to work with them some time ago, I soon stopped it was dead, they give callers to overflow psychics and their popular psychics while the rest sit all night with nothing to do, I then got a call from a lady saying one off the readers had sent her a voicemail saying it was urgent, the poor woman was distressed! I found this disgusting playing on people’s vulnerabilities. I like reading cards because it can help others, people must remember though that it is guidance to help you on your path, If they have any serious issues get a counsellor or therapist, readings are helpful but ultimately you must choose your own path. I don’t know what psychic today are playing at but I am glad I don’t work their anymore, their are good readers out there who are ethical and want to help others, find one and stick to them if you must get a reading.

  5. Hi I don’t agree with you assertions that psychic today or any psychic service is damaging to a person’s esteem or integrity . Within reason the law should allow a psychic to talk freely about what she/he wants . The onus rests on the individuals to allow a reading to impress or to ignore . When the law states for entertainment purposes only one can be scared or made happy . The psychic should use discretion in whom they are dealing with to break bad news or not. In my experience they do not share that at a greater length. I do believe even if their more happy predictions don’t come true the allowance should be made like entertainment one was made happy or hopeful for that period of time . I do believe they should endeavour to be as accurate as possible and allowances made if they do not connect as such. If the individual finds advice too harsh etc they should imagine the experience as a spur to prove them wrong . As such is another thing written in stone ? The only exclusion should be death if a person doesn’t want to know about death then they should be allowed not to be given such information . But blaming a psychic for what she sees in all instances lies with the individual. Time is infinite and whether events occur or do not are only seen in a basis of action/ reaction . If I was warned that a road block was ahead I would take a different route , that changes the path slightly . If not I could crash or go around it . I believe something’s will happen such as death and taxes but to have belief for something extraordinary is what we all wAnt to hear . Who can blame someone for telling us anything possible

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