Cape Town – Following viewer complaints, M-Net is moving the new drama Lucifer four hours later, upping the age restriction to 16 and banishing it to TV's version of hell: late night on Fridays when nobody watches television.
M-Net started showing Lucifer last week at 19:00 and with a low age restriction in South Africa and several African countries.
In the new drama series Satan, played by Tom Ellis, is depicted as a sympathetic character who escaped hell and decides to help people after a girl he likes is killed after she "sold her soul to the devil".
"It is completely unacceptable to me that offensive series like Lucifer be televised," one complainant wrote. "I would suggest that DStv contribute to the cultivation of this country and community and not break it down and let it fall into sin – from pornography to Satan worship. It is unacceptable to say the least," said a DStv subscriber.
"We find the new series Lucifer distasteful. It's being aired in a prime slot in the evening and we feel it promotes Satan as something intriguing which we find offensive. If it must be aired then it should be aired in a late off-peak slot or on the DStv Explora," said another.
"DStv is broadcasting this series on Wednesday evening, that actively portrays Satan/ Lucifer as a hero to innocent people who might not know better. Has he succeeded in deceiving DStv and South African Christians, to believe that this is an innocent fable as well? In the meantime I cannot support DStv while they are actively spreading Satan's word," complained another viewer.
"I find it most disturbing that this kind of series is aired during family time (19:00). It goes against any grain of Christianity to project Satan as a caring and helpful "person". Children especially will be giving contradicting messages when allowed to watch this. I know one can block it or remove the channel but that is not the point, what has become of morality and values?" said another.
M-Net now says Lucifer is getting banished to television's version of TV hell after wrongly programming it too early with a too low parental advisory: late on Friday nights which is the least watched day and timeslot of the week.
"The series Lucifer will move from its prime-time slot on M-Net Edge on Wednesdays at 19:00 to Fridays at 23:00 from this week onwards," says Gideon Khobane, M-Net channel director.
M-Net showed Lucifer in South Africa, Namibia, Malawi, Botswana, Swaziland, Zimbabwe, Zambia and Mozambique last week and is making the change after the complaints.
"Due to the perceived sensitive nature of its content, we believe Lucifer is better suited for late-night viewing. While M-Net Edge is the much-loved home of edgy, provocative and highly acclaimed series, we continue to review our schedules to ensure that the content matches the timeslot."
M-Net will continue to make Lucifer available to viewers on DStv Catch Up and the Express from the US broadcast will continue on Wednesdays at 02:00.
Watch the trailer here: