TV channels fined over Michael Jackson and Milly Dowler claims


Two television channels have been fined a total of £22,500 after they featured psychics making claims about singer Michael Jackson and murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler.

Psychic Today and Big Deal were in breach of broadcasting rules after they showed a psychic telling viewers she was involved in the police investigation into the death of the Surrey teenager, regulator Ofcom said.

Another psychic claimed she accurately predicted that her friend would become close to the late King of Pop, before producing photographs of the pair in private locations including his recording studio.

Ofcom ruled that both instances were in breach of its broadcasting code, which states that services such as astrology, horoscopes and tarot readings should be advertised “for entertainment purposes” only.

Advertising for channels such as Psychic Today are not allowed to “make claims for efficacy or accuracy” or “predict negative experiences or specific events”, the regulator said.

In its ruling, Ofcom said that, on June 20 last year, a psychic called “Crystal” told viewers: “One of the cases that’s actually signed, sealed and delivered and got the seal on it, was the um, oh crikey, uh the Milly Dowler case... I was the one that dealt with that one.”

On June 2 last year, a psychic referred to a reading she claimed to have given to someone who would become “quite close friends” with Jackson.

The friend would stay at the singer’s house and write two books about him, but the friendship would end suddenly for some reason, the psychic said.

Majestic TV, which holds the licence for Psychic Today, told Ofcom that the claims made in both cases were “factually correct” but admitted that the reference to Milly Dowler was “unfortunate”.

The regulator concluded that the breaches were “serious and repeated” and a financial penalty should be imposed. Majestic TV Limited was fined £12,500, while Square 1 Management Limited was handed a £10,000 penalty in respect of its Big Deal service.