Icasa to take TopTV to court

2012-01-10 09:57
Thinus Ferreira
Cape Town – A big court clash is coming as South Africa's broadcasting regulator, the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa), has now filed for an urgent court interdict to stop pay TV operator TopTV from pushing through its porn plans until Icasa has held a public hearing.

Icasa, in charge of regulating South Africa's broadcasting industry including pay TV operators, threatened that it will take TopTV to court to prevent the pay TV operator from unilaterally starting a new stand-alone pornographic package for which it has no approval certificate.

Icasa has now made an urgent court application to block TopTV's porn launch until a public consultation process has taken place.

The urgent court interdict Icasa filed on Monday against TopTV will be heard on Friday January 13. TopTV is reportedly challenging the interdict.

TopTV has continued its push for porn channels before any public hearing on the application has taken place – as is usually the case.

TopTV has made an "application for authorisation" to Icasa to broadcast hardcore pornography as a new separate porn package, and the pay TV operator says according to how it is interpreting the regulations, TopTV has a right to broadcast the new channels.

The stand-alone package of three Playboy TV channels will have a separate monthly subscription of R199 for the hardcore 24-hour channels.

TopTV's "application for authorisation for channels" appeared in the Government Gazette on November 17 2011. After that the public and stakeholders had two weeks to comment. This period is then followed by a public hearing.

TopTV said in December that as far as the pay TV operator is concerned, "the channels are automatically approved".

Heather Kennedy, vice-president for content marketing at TopTV, said that TopTV's three pornographic channels will "go live within the next two weeks", which means before the end of January.

Public hearing on January 16

Icasa filed the court interdict to prevent TopTV from starting its pornographic channels until such time as the public consultation process is completed.

According to industry insiders, Icasa gave TopTV until the end of business on Monday to file answers as an affidavit regarding TopTV's porn plans.

Besides Friday's upcoming court battle, Icasa will call for a public hearing on TopTV's porn plans which will take place on Monday January 16.

Anyone can attend Icasa's public hearing which in all probability will now draw a much bigger crowd than usual since TopTV's porn plans generated extensive interest and reaction and sparked huge debate.

Jubie Matlou, Icasa's senior manager for communications and international relations told Channel24: "Icasa has filed an interdict to prevent TopTV to go ahead with the launch until it has finalised the matter by first conducting public hearings on the initiative next week 16 January." 

Answers by end January

He said that after TopTV's porn package hearings, Icasa will give an answer and make its findings known by the end of January.

Meanwhile, Icasa received several submissions from the public and industry stakeholders regarding TopTV's porn plans.

TopTV initially told subscribers in November that it will launch its new pornographic channels on December 20. The plan has since been met with widespread vocal public resistance.

The Film and Publications Board (FPB) also indicated that it will "strongly oppose" TopTV's application.

Different faith-based groups in South Africa have since united in calling for a boycott of TopTV and TopTV advertisers and have jointly asked TopTV subscribers to cancel their contracts.

"TopTV has responded to the court interdict by undertaking that it is challenging the interdict," said Matlou.

TopTV was asked about the court case and the urgent court interdict set to be heard on Friday. TopTV did not respond.


  • planetdonovan - 2012-01-10 10:36

    after the way that telkom has ignored icasa, it's no surprise that toptv thinks they can do the same.

  • Johan - 2012-01-10 10:45

    Go TopTV, go.

  • gys.smit - 2012-01-10 10:55

    It is still a pay channel , so it is weird that Icasa would want to block it. And also the public out cry of the previous DSTV porn channel. People will watch what they like on dvd or internet.

      Kala - 2012-01-10 11:58

      True Gys - And if you don't like porn then don't watch it.

  • clivecorbz - 2012-01-10 11:02

    Do you not have to put a disclaimer at the bottom of the article when writing about TopTV? Seeing as you guys are owned by Naspers (Owners of Multichoice)... I used to see them on the articles, but not anymore.

      Johan - 2012-01-10 11:09

      Ah. I always wondered why these stories about TopTV are always so one sided. Now I know.

  • Eugene - 2012-01-10 11:09

    What on earth is the furor about? Porn is already freely available anyway, and nobody will be forced to subscribe to TopTV.

  • Stephen - 2012-01-10 11:12

    I Still think it's funny that everyone's objecting to these new proposed channels. TopTV's porn package will be much harder to access than say the TERABYTES of free porn on the internet.

  • Nosiphom - 2012-01-10 11:16

    Let us attend the public hearings e-masse and tell ICASA to go to hell. We live in a free country don't we?

  • Kogie - 2012-01-10 11:20

    stop the porn from being sold on the streets first.iam against top tv screening porn,but the law should apply to everyone.on a positive note, if you allow top tv to go ahead, i think it will slowly erradicate it from being sold on the streets, this is my opinion. in august 2010, i wrote a letter to various authorities, viz,the police,the local municipality,the traffic dept.complaining about the illegal sale of dvds outside my shop, but to date nothings being done.its business as usual.i would futher like to add that the relevent authorities only try and prevent or stop someone when they are approacched to do it legally. for example,wallmart and massmart. on the other hand you got the chinese cheap imports flooding this country and thats ok.

  • Meshack Letswalo - 2012-01-10 11:27

    Toptv knows their subscribers. During the day they preach in public and in news24 forum, and at night they sneak out of their marital beds to watch Emmanuel on eTV which requires no subscription.

  • wesley.bischoff - 2012-01-10 11:38

    I still don't understand what these people's issue is. Is TopTV forcing the entire country to subscribe to the channels? No Typical religious morons, read the constitution... freedom of choice. Besides, it is so easy to download any kind of porn that you want from the internet, so why is there an issue with TopTV. Just coz it's TV? Now go get a hobby and leave the people who want porn alone.

  • Preshen - 2012-01-10 11:47

    porno make everyone happy

  • Donald - 2012-01-10 11:49

    Maybe Psat is behind this, as they dont want competition. I subscribed to Psat for adult hardcore porn via satellite a few years ago, but did not renew the subscription when it expired due to the BAD quality of the porn screened. It was easy to subscribe by simply going to their web site. Why did ICASA do nothing about that? huh??

  • kabelo.leballo - 2012-01-10 12:02

    we want those PORN CHANNELS, TV is boring!! go TOPTV go!!!

  • Klipkop - 2012-01-10 12:08

    ^^^ wankers. Start thinking with your brains, that is the stuff between your ears not between your legs.

      Nosiphom - 2012-01-10 14:27

      was that to ICASA?

  • Gcwabe.KaMavovo - 2012-01-10 13:30


  • Ishmael - 2012-01-10 14:39

    TopTV has made an "application for authorisation" to Icasa to broadcast hardcore pornography as a new separate and stand alone porn package. If you don't like porn then don't subscribe for it and leave it for those who will benefit from it.

  • Eugene - 2012-01-10 15:08

    I'm not for or against Porn. I think it has it's place in this world, for theright audience / viewer. No one is forcing anyone to subscribe, it is a service that the ServiceProvider is offering. One should think of this as if It's like an restaurant, you are not forced to drink alcohol or eat anyspecific type of food. There is a huge veriety of Meats, Salads and Drinks,your order what you like. No one is forcing a vegetarian to eat meat orvisa-versa. I do understand the religious issue this channel provides... As porn is a "NO-NO". It is quite a pickle.... *Mind the Pun*

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