New TopTV boss unrepentant about porn plans

Acting CEO of TopTV, Eddie Mbalo

New TopTV boss  Eddie Mbalo says the pay TV service “made some mistakes” but apparently he does not think it was a mistake to try and launch a porn package.

The “mistakes”, it seems, are to do with non-delivery on content and service. But in an interview with TV writer Thinus Ferreira, acting CEO of TopTV Mbalo says he was disappointed that the company’s porn plans were turned down by the Independent Broadcasting Authority of South Africa (Icasa). He says that once Icasa discloses its reasons for rejecting the broadcaster’s porn channel application, On Digital Media, which owns TopTV, will decide how to proceed.

Referring to the public outcry about TopTV’s porn plans, Mablao says in the interview: ” As is often the case, the detractors to adult content are more vocal.”

He says: “It was always our intention to offer the three adult content channels as a completely separate package to the current TopTV channel offerings and we had put in all the necessary security checks and balances to ensure this would be the case.”

After turning down TopTV’s porn application on January 27, Icasa said it would provide its reasons within 30 days. The ruling was welcomed by Christian organisations which played an active role in the campaign against the broadcaster’s plans to launch three hardcore porn channels. Muslims, Hindus, the Film and Publication Film and Publication Board (FPB), COSATU and Top TV investors all strongly opposed the porn plans.

During TopTV’s campaign to push its porn plans through, former TopTV CEO, Vino Govender, argued that porn was good for the community, claiming that research showed that it reduced the incidence of sex crimes. His views were rejected by opponents.

Days after Icasa refused TopTV’s porn application, Govender was axed. Reports linked his departure with the porn debacle but it seems it was more to do with poor results. His successor, Mbalo is adamant that there’s definitely a place for TopTV and a second pay TV service in South Africa and that TopTV can and is filling that space.

He promises a more transparent business and more information sharing with stakeholders as TopTV moves into the future, saying TopTV will be taking a critical look at its content offering, reports Ferreira.

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