TopTV botched own porn application

2012-03-09 07:36

The Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa) has published the reasons for refusing On Digital Media’s application for three pornographic channels that TopTV wanted to launch as a separate bouquet.

Icasa said TopTV fatally damaged its own application by not adhering to the rules, not showing up for its own public hearing and not “taking Icasa’s public consultation process seriously”.

Icasa also said that the consumption of pornography by law, through the Film and Publications Act, places limits on how and where pornography may be distributed.

“Accordingly, Icasa sees no reason to expand access to pornography on the airwaves into the home,” said the regulator, who indicates that TopTV didn’t submit any statistical information or research showing how many South Africans want pornographic channels.

Pertinent issues

Icasa chairperson Dr Stephen Ncube severely criticised TopTV for the amateur way in which the pay TV operator approached the application.

Icasa said TopTV “for some inexplicable reasons, did not participate in the public hearings held on January 16.

It must further be noted that the regulator did not receive a courtesy of a communique of the licensee’s decision not to participate in the public hearings.

“This has hamstrung the ability of the licensee or applicant to respond to some of the pertinent issues or questions that other stakeholders and members of the committee wanted to pose or raise to the applicant.”

Material of an adult nature can only be sold in shops
Icasa said the Film and Publications Act states that material of an adult nature can only be sold and distributed by a vendor with a licence to distribute pornographic material.

“This is neither an infringement on privacy nor does it amount to censorship. By limiting the right to porn to adult shops, the possibility of premature consumption of porn by minors is considerably reduced,” said Icasa.

Icasa, which said it undertook a public consultation process for the channels’ application, “received no submissions from parties who were expressly in favour of pornographic channels, either from individuals or by way of statistical information by the applicant”.

Impact on children
Icasa said it also considered at length “how to balance the right of the applicant in terms of its right to freedom of expression with the rights of women to equality and human dignity”.

According to the regulator, TopTV’s “failure to attend the public hearing meant that Icasa could not question it about the representations of women”.

Icasa went further, saying “TopTV’s failure to attend the public hearing meant that Icasa couldn’t question TopTV about the extent to which it proposed parental blocking mechanism with a double-digit pin code would in practice protect children from viewing the channels.

“Icasa is concerned about the possible impact on children through the delivery of pornography into the homes over the airwaves.”

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