TopTV bent on launching porn channels

2011-12-14 14:28

TopTV is intent on fully launching its separate porn package of three hardcore pornography TV channels “this month”, TopTV’s senior manager of regulatory affairs, Thato Mahapa, has said.

Meanwhile, the pay TV operator has received no approval from South Africa’s regulator and is now on a direct collision course with the authority.

Mahapa said TopTV still hopes to launch its porn package “this month”, possibly indicating a launch over Christmas.

Conflicting reports however, TopTV’s spokesperson, Melinda Connor, told Channel24: “We can confirm that we’ll not be launching in December. We will announce the launch date closer to the time.”

TopTV has now upset South Africa’s broadcasting regulator, the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa), saying it has the right to launch its porn channels.

Icasa has not issued a certificate of approval giving TopTV permission to launch any new TV channels.

TopTV and Icasa are now heading for a major fight over the Playboy TV channels.

‘Already authorised’ TopTV’s Thato Mahapa said the porn channels are “by default already authorised”, alleging that Icasa failed to give a decision on the application within the 60-day period.

Yet TopTV’s “application for authorisation of channels” only appeared in the Government Gazette on November 17.

According to volume 557, no 34760, all interested parties had 14 days to make written representations in relation to the specific application with Icasa.

After that, Icasa can decide to have a public hearing regarding the application and all the written representations received.

Icasa spokesperson Paseka Maleka told Channel24 that “the authority is currently considering all the submissions received in respect to the TopTV application”.

“The date for public hearings has not been set as yet but an official communiqué will be issued in due course.

“The authority received written representations from members of the public following the publication of the ODM channel authorisation application in the Government Gazette.

The authority is awaiting written responses from ODM and thereafter a public hearing will be convened.“It is within the authority’s right to institute further engagements on matters of regulatory nature to ensure that decisions are lawful, reasonable and procedurally fair.

The ODM case is no exception. It will be unfortunate if ODM opts to disregard the public consultation process that is currently under way and which it is very much aware of,” Maleka said.

TopTV’s Mahapa said TopTV believes, due to technicalities, that “the channels are automatically approved”.

“It is us who warned Icasa of its non-compliance with the regulations and they did not listen.

“Secondly, we warned Icasa of the consequences of non-adherence to the regulations, including automatic approval of the channels by virtue of regulations 3.5, and Icasa chose not to heed the call.”

He said that TopTV “always has and will continue to adhere to existing regulations”.Agreement signed TopTV applied for three pornographic channels – or as the industry euphemistically refer to them, “adult channels” – after the pay TV operator signed a carriage agreement with Playboy TV.

The Playboy channels will have a separate subscription fee of R199 per month for the three 24-hour channels.

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