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TopTV porn plan elicits record response

2013-02-01 14:01
 
Cape Town – TopTV's application to start broadcasting pornographic TV channels in South Africa has provoked a record response and prompted the largest number of submissions ever received for a channel authorisation request made to the country’s broadcasting regulator.

TopTV's porn bouquet plan shattered the TV industry record by prompting a flood of 285 submissions to the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa) from the South African public, organisations and TV industry stakeholders.

Never before have the South African public, organisations and the TV industry responded in such huge numbers to an "authorisation for channels" application – usually a boring process.

Icasa now has to decide when a public hearing will take place which the industry and the public are always free to attend.

Backed out of first hearing

On Digital Media (ODM), which runs the struggling TopTV service in South Africa, backed out of its own public hearing at the beginning of 2012 when it filed a similar authorisation for a porn bouquet. Icasa officials were not able to put questions to TopTV executives about its porn bouquet and encryption plans and the application was eventually denied.

TopTV suffered brand damage in the resultant public outcry due to the controversial application and investors threatened to pull out. Shortly after the application was denied, TopTV's CEO Vino Govender was suddenly out and Eddie Mbalo took over as the new interim CEO at the pay-TV operator.

Now a year later, TopTV applied again to Icasa to run three 24-hour pornographic TV channels - Playboy TV, Desire TV and Private Spice - as a separate bouquet with a separate subscription.

Channel restriction

The porn bouquet will have a double PIN. The planned porn bouquet's channels will be blocked to ordinary TopTV subscribers although the text of the channels' individual and edited programme descriptions will show up on all subscribers' electronic programme guides (EPG). The porn channels will all have a restriction of R18 – the highest possible classification.

TopTV said that the porn bouquet application, if successful, would on its own not be enough to save the company which is currently in business rescue and looking for partners who can fund a capital injection into the Woodmead based pay-TV operation.

Icasa confirms that the regulator received 285 submissions about TopTV's porn plans. "We are currently analysing all the submissions," said Icasa.

More than routine

South Africa's broadcasting regulations, similar to countries such as India, do not allow for pornographic channels to be shown on the service of pay-TV operators. According to the Film and Publication Board (FPB) the law allows people seeking pornography to go and buy it at shops and specific outlets where strict regulations apply.

Application for authorisation requests for new TV channels in South Africa are usually tediously boring and merely routine administrative processes. The massive response from South African society, which TopTV's second try at potential porn broadcasting has provoked, makes this application however anything but routine.

- Channel24

Read more on:    icasa  |  toptv  |  on digital media  |  tv  |  pornography
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