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TopTV's porn case still undecided

2012-01-15 12:18
 
Cape Town – The battle to pump hardcore pornography over South Africa's TV airwaves is now even more complicated.

It was revealed on Friday that the Independent Broadcasting Authority of South Africa (Icasa)'s case to block pay TV operator TopTV from broadcasting porn without a license will only be decided upon by the South Gauteng High Court on Wednesday.

Meanwhile Icasa, in keeping with the regulatory application process for new TV channels, is holding its own public hearing on Monday January 16 at 10:00 at its Sandton office which anyone can attend.

Icasa will hear from the public and stakeholders on whether to grant approval to TopTV to launch its new stand-alone pornographic package of hardcore, 24-hour pornographic TV channels - Private Spice, Adult XXX and Playboy Europe - which TopTV now intends to launch on January 20.

Friday's court case stretched for several hours, with the South Gauteng High Court indicating that a decision will only be made on Wednesday on whether Icasa's urgent court interdict will be granted.

Despite reputational damage and having no approval certificate from Icasa who must still hold Monday's public hearing on the matter and after that make a decision, TopTV is adamant on launching the new pornographic channel set irrespective of what Icasa says.

Resistance

TopTV's porn plan, which has been making international news, has been met with resistance from TopTV subscribers, the South African public which includes South African Christian, Muslim and Hindu faith-based groups, and organisations such as the Film and Publication Board (FPB) which said it will "strongly oppose" the plan.

TopTV planned to launch its porn package on December 20 as it told TopTV subscribers in a letter at the end of 2011; then moved the date to 20 January.

Private Spice, Adult XXX and Playboy Europe

The channels Private Spice, Adult XXX and Playboy Europe are provided by Playboy UK/Benelux Limited.

TopTV, which signed carriage agreements with the group in 2011, says it needs to launch and start broadcasting the porn package due to contractual time stipulations made with the content providers.

TopTV plans to make the three TV channels available at a combined additional price of R199 per month in a separate subscription requiring an additional PIN code.

Icasa argued that TopTV cannot launch any TV channels until the regulatory process, which Icasa is obliged to carry out, has been completed and then only if permission is granted. TopTV argued that Icasa has no basis to bring an interdict since the pay TV operator believes that it has automatic approval to start broadcasting porn.

TopTV said it has a right to broadcast porn since it applied for the porn package licence on September 13 and that 60 days had lapsed since the application, which gives the pay TV operator automatic approval by November 13, 2011.

The "application for authorisation for channels" was first published in the Government Gazette on November 17. That gave the public and stakeholders two weeks to comment after which Icasa can then at its own discretion call for a date for a public hearing.

Breakdown

Here is a breakdown of the latest dates and what will now be happening:

Monday January 16: Public hearing at Icasa in Sandton on TopTV's porn application. After this Icasa must still make a decision about whether to approve or deny the application in Icasa's own time.

Wednesday January 18: A separate process: A decision by the South Gauteng High Court to either grant or refuse Icasa's urgent court interdict. If granted, it will block TopTV and make the pay TV operator revert to Icasa's timeframe for TV channel approval. If refused TopTV will go ahead without regulatory approval and launch its porn package as soon as possible.

Friday January 20: The date that TopTV wants to launch Adult XXX, Private Spice and Playboy Europe as three pornographic channels in a stand-alone, separate subscription package, irrespective of clearance from Icasa.

- Channel24

Read more on:    icasa  |  toptv  |  pornography  |  tv
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