Icasa refuses TopTV porn application

The Independent Communications Authority (Icasa) has turned down Top TV’s application to launch a new, standalone hardcore pornography package of channels.

Icasa has said it will provide reasons for its decision withing 30 days.

The Icasa decision brings to an end a stormy two months battle during which South Africans across a broad spectrum made it clear they were opposed to the pay broadcaster’s plans to introduce the Adult XXX, Playboy Europe and Private Spice channels.

Christians, Muslims and Hindu groups, as well as the Film and Publication Board (FPB), COSATU and Top TV investors all strongly opposed the porn plans. And by last week even the majority of TopTV’s board became decidedly negative about the porn proposals.

While the public opposition mounted TopTV also faced a legal setback on January 16 when the Supreme Court in South Gauteng ruled that the broadcaster could not launch the porn channels without permission from Icasa. TopTV had planned to introduce the porn package on January 20, believing that it had the right to do so because Icasa had failed to respond to its written application after two months.

After the court ruling, TOPtv released a statement saying that it had the support of the majority of South Africans, who looked forward to adult content. It also said that its research showed that adult content reduced the incidence of sex crimes. TopTV did not make an oral presentation at its public hearing convened by Icasa on January 16. The FPA said at the hearing that the Broadcasting Act clearly stipulated that the distribution of pornography can be done only through licensed stores and classified videos. The FPB said that the sale of pornographic content is only allowed to be made to people over the age of 18 and that hardcore pornography can’t be broadcast on television. Christian Action Network (CAN) told the hearing that pornography was as destructive and addictive as drugs and posed a threat to women and children. CAN also said TopTV’s proposed security measures to prevent children from accessing the porn would not be effective.

In a column written before Icasa’s decision to refuse TopTV’s porn channels application, Family Policy Director Errol Naidoo said: “We received the answer to our prayers when the High Court prevented TopTV from launching the channels on 20 Jan. Now God is using the giant labour federation COSATU to fight this battle.”

He also said: “Christians who have prayed and actively united against evil have stopped DStv, E-tv and TopTV from broadcasting pornography in SA. However, you and I must not become complacent.

“I am writing to the Department of Communications and Home Affairs to once and for all amend legislation to prohibit all forms of pornography on television. The recent public battles with our broadcasters overwhelmingly prove the SA public rejects porn on national TV.”

Clearly TopTV seriously misread the sentiment of the majority of South Africans to porn.  Both MultiChoice who conducted research into the possibility of starting a pornographic TV package, as well as e.tv broadcasting  Naked News, in which presenters strip while reading the news,  came in for severe public criticism in the past, and were forced to back off.

A Gateway News reader said in a recent online comment that while watching a movie on e.tv the previous evening he had seen 6 to 7 hardcore porn advertisements every 15 minutes. Understanding these to be ads promoting cellphone porn I asked TV writer Thinus Ferreira whether he was aware of any public campaign against this toxic content. Ferrerira said: “A member of the public would first have to write and complain to the Broadcasting Complaints Commission (BCCSA) regarding the cellphone ads, but nobody has (ever yet) done so.

“There are also advertiser-funded shows on the SABC (for instance SABC1 which is supposed to have none) but nobody writes to complain about it and it requires viewers to say they saw this or that and don’t like it.

“So mostly its the ‘’bigger’’ things like a specific programme etc. that sometimes catch the lightning also there is definitely multiple transgressions that’s never acted upon because the regulators needs the public to first activate something as an issue, in the same way the press also only reacts once the public reacts.”

2 Comments

  1. I give thanks to the Lord for this breakthrough. We love this country and no one has the right to bring filth into it, no matter how deep their pockets are.

  2. LATEST DEVELOPMENT: Icasa spokesman Jubie Matlou said it was decided that women’s right to dignity outweighed TopTV’s right to freedom of expression, and the rights of viewers to receive pornography on television.