Regulator Tells Why It Stopped South African Porn Channel

Mar 9, 2012 10:00 AM PST

CAPE TOWN, South Africa — South Afica’s TopTV’s bid to air cable TV porn channels was blocked in part by the country’s regulator because it deemed women’s rights and dignity outweighed the broadcaster’s right to freedom of expression.

The Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) released the reasons for its decision yesterday.

"On the issue of balancing the rights of women to equality and human dignity with the right of freedom of expression, ICASA is of the view that the right of women to equality and human dignity overrides TopTV’s right to freedom of expression, as well as the rights of viewers to receive pornography on television in the home," ICASA said.

"ICASA holds this view because it regards the consumption of pornography as one contributing factor, amongst others, to the normalization of violence against women in SA."

But blocking the channel means more to TopTV than losing what could have been a cash cow for the company.

According to iAfrica.com, The company was also hit with a hefty bill from Playboy TV UK/Benelux, with which it had already inked a deal to provide for a bouquet of three 24-hour channels including Playboy Europe, Private Spice and Adult XXX.

And shortly after the rift, TopTV’s parent company, On Digital Media, canned its CEO, Vino Govender, the architect of the deal.

But ICASA maintained that TopTV’s boycott of public hearing on the porn issue in January demonstrated that it didn’t take its “public consultation process” seriously which also "fatally damaged" its application.

It had also "misconstrued the objections to its application on moral or religious grounds rather than as serious stakeholder engagement on constitutional and legal grounds," according to ICASA.

The regulator also said citizens’ rights to freedom of expression regarding porn through the Film and Publications Act placed limits on how and where adult content may be distributed.

"Accordingly, ICASA sees no reason to expand access to pornography on the airwaves into the home."

A TopTV spokeswoman, Melinda Connor had no comment.

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