StarSat takes censorship battle to SA Supreme Court

DetailsRebecca Hawkes | 16 January 2015

Pay-TV provider StarSat has taken its fight to broadcast pornography to South Africa's Supreme Court of Appeal after the Western High Court ruled the country's regulator was wrong to allow it to air adult content last November.

StarSat is once again airing its standalone porn channels - Playboy TV, Desire TV and Private Spice - while its appeal is being considered. It was issued a licence for the adult channels by the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) in April 2013.

The Western Cape High Court, however, ruled the matter should go back to ICASA for reconsideration in November 2014 after the licence was challenged by non-profit organisation the Justice Alliance of SA (Jasa), and supported by Cause for Justice and Doctors for Life.

Eddie Mbalo, executive consultant to StarTimes' parent company On Digital Media (ODM), told ITWeb Daily that it has decided to appeal because: "We do not believe ICASA should act as a censor and make decisions on R-rated content.

"Classification should be done by the Film and Publications Board. That's why we believe the Supreme Court will reach a different finding."

During earlier court proceedings, ICASA conceded it had failed to appoint experts to study StarSat's plan to broadcast pornography. ODM had also failed to register with the Film and Publications Board as a purveyor of adult content.

ODM has been in business rescue since April 2014, when China's StarTimes bought a 20% stake in the struggling pay-TV platform, formerly known as TopTV.

ODM is reportedly still waiting for ICASA to transfer its electronic communications network services licence to StarTimes before it can conclude business rescue.