Icasa can’t refuse TopTV licence for porn, hearing told

2013-03-15 00:00

ICASA had no choice but to allow Top TV to broadcast three porn channels, advocate Steven Budlender told a public hearing called by the Independent Communications Authority of SA yesterday.

“It makes no difference what I, the Icasa board, any political party or any other organisation thinks of porn on TV: Icasa does not have the power in law to refuse this licence. It would be unconstitutional to refuse this licence.”

TopTV surprised by not only attending the hearing, but by bringing in the big guns to argue its case. Budlender and co-counsel Dario Milo frequently argue freedom of expression cases, like the issue surrounding The Spear last year.

TopTV wants to show the Playboy, Desire and Private Spice channels between 8 pm and 5 am, having dropped plans for 24-hour channels.

The broadcaster’s chief, Eddie Mbalo, admitted in his submission that they hoped to gain viewers with the porn offering, amid ongoing financial problems.

The issue of South Africa’s high rape rate was raised as a reason for the licence to be refused.

Dr Albu van Eeden of Doctors for Life, said pornography was “one of the most addictive habits”, causing the brain to produce chemicals similar to those released by cocaine, LSD and morphine.

However, clinical sexologist Dr Marlene Wasserman said the people who became addicted to pornography werethose who had been sexually abused before the age of five, which altered their brain chemistry.

“Pornography, violence and rape have no connection,” she said. “Rape is about dominance, which will not be an element of TopTV’s porn.”

Christianity and moral values were also raised, but Budlender said morality could not be legislated because it was a relative concept and South Africans held a variety of moral values.

Icasa will consider the submissions before making a decision.

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