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TopTV: No intention to be porn channel

2012-05-10 21:52
 
TopTV
Cape Town – "We didn't want to be known as the porn channel. It was never our intention to become the porn channel," TopTV told journalists at the pay TV operator's first ever programming preview in Cape Town on Wednesday.

TopTV was asked about whether the pay TV operator has reached a decision yet on whether to again pursue its stand-alone pornographic package of channels after South Africa's TV regulator turned it down earlier this year.

"It's with the lawyers. It's still with the lawyers," said Heather Kennedy, TopTV's vice president for marketing.

Icasa decided not to grant TopTV's application for authorisation to start broadcasting pornographic TV channels.

An embarrassing public porn battle ensued and resulted in irreparable damage to TopTV's reputation.

The timing was wrong

"The timing was wrong," admitted Kennedy about the porn launch.

"It all happened when a company called PSat suddenly came forward and advertised porn; told people they will be showing porn and that people can get TopTV, throw TopTV's smartcard away and get porn through our decoder.

"At the same time we had lodged an application at Icasa for adult content. And always our intention was for a completely different package, from Playboy.
 
"Then events unfolded and I don't need to unpackage it further.

Not an adult service

"Our focus is and remains on family viewing. We didn't and don't want to be seen as an adult service. Our focus is on family and family viewing. But there is a market for adult content," she said.

"Interestingly, Sky in the United Kingdom has 17 adult channels in their basic bouquet - un-PIN-coded to be seen by anyone. Of course we do have in South Africa a slightly different market," she said.

Kennedy said TopTV will continue to strengthen its content offering in future as an affordable, pay TV alternative option in South Africa.

Details of the porn battle

It started when TopTV - which didn't have an authorisation of application letter from Icasa - told subscribers in a letter that it would start a new stand-alone, separate pornographic bouquet requiring a separate PIN, during the week of Christmas 2011.

At the same time TopTV, which has not added new channels, started losing channels from its normal bouquet when channel providers ceased broadcasting.

That lead existing subscribers to feel that TopTV was suddenly focusing its attention on a niche product instead of improving its main general offering.

The former CEO Vino Govender, who has since resigned, also said at TopTV's launch that TopTV would not have pornographic channels.

TopTV was however under immense pressure to launch the porn bouquet since it stood to lose already signed broadcasting rights with the European company supplying the porn channels.

Public outcry followed, organisations called for a boycott of TopTV and advertisers and subscribers were asked to cancel their subscriptions.

TopTV investors threatened to disinvest, TopTV and Icasa went to court, and TopTV didn't show up at its own public hearing where its public application for the bouquet was heard.

Eddie Mbalo is the new interim CEO of TopTV which turned two last week.

Flagship channel struggling

"Top One is supposed to be our flagship channel but it's struggling a bit. We have plans to fix it up a bit," Kennedy told journalists. 

"Top One is going to be strengthened with more local content as one of the strategies to further improve the channel for subscribers," she elaborated.

The other self-compiled "Top" channels such as Top Explore and Top History will also be beefed up with more fresh content.

- Channel24

Read more on:    toptv  |  eddie mbalo  |  pornography  |  tv

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