Porn Channel Blocked by South African High Court

Jan 17, 2012 6:00 AM PST

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa — Satellite TV provider TopTV was blocked from launching South Africa’s first-ever 24-hour adult pay channel.

The broadcaster can't move forward with the launch of its porn bouquet of channels until it receives permision from the country’s Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) regulator, a High Court ruled on Monday.

The controversy has been brewing since September when TopTV announced its plans to launch a softcore channel  —Playboy Europe — and two hardcore porn channels — Adult XXX, and Private Spice.

TopTV applied to ICASA for permission to air the channels but after receiving no response, it decided to green light its plans to launch on Jan. 20.

ICASA claimed that the unprecedented application contained confidentiality clauses and it needed more time to make a proper decision.

The pay channel provider's lawyer, Paul Kennedy, disputed ICASA’s  claim and maintained that the regulator did not "apply their mind" and are attempting to "shift the goalposts to suit themselves".

"As per legislation, you can add channels to an existing bouquet with a new application. As such the argument is invalid. ICASA had the 60 days to look at this.We reminded them, time and time again, but nothing was done," Kennedy said.

But during a public hearing on Monday sponsored by ICASA that was reportedly attended largely by people who were opposed to TopTV’s initiative, the High Court made its ruling.

On-Digital Media (Pty) Ltd (ODM), parent company of TopTV, must now receive permission from ICASA before it can move forward.

“The judge made his decision today, this morning, ruling in favor of ICASA stopping TopTV from launching the broadcast of the three channels on the 20th,” said ICASA spokesman Jubie Matlou.

ICASA has until Jan. 31 to rule on the matter.

“ICASA is still going to deliberate on this matter and it will come up with a decision either for or against,” Matlou said.

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