ICASA gives reasons for refusal on TV porn

Rebecca Hawkes | 11-03-2012

"Consumption" of pornography on television "may contribute to the incidence of rape" and violence towards women, South Africa's regulator concluded while considering TopTV's application to broadcast three adult subscription channels.

The Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa) declined the request on 20 January after considering submissions made by stakeholders, members of the public, TopTV and its parent On Digital Media, as well as the country's constitution and broadcasting legislation, it has said in the full public disclosure of its earlier decision.

"The key point of deliberation revolved around how to balance the right of TopTV in terms of its right to freedom of expression with the right of women to equality and human dignity," said Icasa.

Ultimately, the organisation felt the right of women to equality and human dignity over rides TopTV's right to freedom of expression or their viewers' rights to watch pornography at home on their televisions.

"Icasa holds this view because it regards the consumption of pornography as one contributing factor, amongst others, to the normalisation of violence against women in South Africa," it added.

Top TV, had contentiously planned to air the three channels - Playboy Europe, Private Spice and Adult XXX –in January, before the conclusion of the usual regulatory process whereby new TV channels are considered for launch in South Africa. A high court interdict eventually prevented the broadcaster from doing so without the regulator's permission.

Icasa said the pay-TV operator's failure to take the public consultation process seriously, "fatally damaged its application" as it "misconstrued the objections to its application as moral or religious grounds rather than as serious stakeholder engagement on constitutional and legal grounds".

TopTV also "failed to participate in the public hearing in order to expand on its application and take questions from Icasa and the public or to rebut stakeholder views opposed to its application", it said.

The regulator added that the Film and Publication Act already limits how and where pornography can be distributed. "Accordingly, Icasa sees no reason to expand access to pornography on the airwaves into the home."