SA broadcaster seeks porn TV licence

JOHANNESBURG - On Digital Media (ODM) which runs TopTV has launched a second attempt to introduce pornographic TV channels in South Africa exactly a year after the country’s broadcasting regulator denied TopTV’s first application.

TopTV is currently under business rescue according to the Companies Act and seems to now believe that porn will save it.

Icasa confirmed to Channel24 that TopTV filed its second application for porn channels at the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa) just before Christmas.
 
TopTV CEO Eddie Mbalo responded to a media enquiry, saying “this is a new application and not necessarily what was denied to TopTV by the regulator.”

The South African public and all interested parties have 21 working days from December 19 to comment on TopTV’s porn channel plans.

TopTV applied in 2011 to Icasa to launch a porn package as a separate bouquet with a set of 24-hour pornographic TV channels — Private Spice, Adult XXX and Playboy Europe — during Christmas 2011, although the operator had no approval on the channel application.

In a resultant court case following an urgent court interdict by Icasa, the South Gauteng High Court said TopTV had to wait for Icasa to have the public hearing on the channels.

TopTV didn’t appear before Icasa to answer questions regarding its own application and in early 2012 TopTV’s porn application was denied.

TopTV’s plans were met with huge public resistance. Scores of outraged TopTV subscribers cancelled their contracts and TopTV investors threatened to disinvest from the company.

All of it dented TopTV’s public image and damaged its brand.

TopTV’s first CEO, Vino Govender, at the TopTV launch in May 2010 said the company is run “with strong Christian ethical codes and we are not planning to introduce a porn channel” and that TopTV “doesn’t want to poison the minds of millions of South African children out there”.

In February 2012 TopTV announced that Govender was out with immediate effect, suddenly replaced by Mbalo as the new interim CEO. Later in 2012 Mbalo said Govender had “no broadcasting experience”.

Now TopTV, which is looking for something to save the troubled pay-TV operator, is looking at porn as a possible saviour of its business.

TopTV is trying for a second time and has submitted an application for authorisation for such channels to Icasa again.

TopTV has lost a number of general TV channels from its bouquet — the latest being three channels from Turner at the end of December without providing a reason.

The company entered business rescue at the end of October but has made no public announcement about the application for the new channels.

Asked whether TopTV has any news to share regarding its business rescue plan, Mbalo said that “the business rescue practitioner will communicate at an appropriate time any information that is for public consumption”.

Asked why TopTV decided to apply for this type of channel again, Mbalo said “all the questions related to our application to Icasa will be responded to when we have our opportunity to respond during the public hearings if they do occur.

“The future of TopTV will be communicated at an appropriate time as part of the business rescue plan.” — Channel24

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