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Porn on SA TV – should it be allowed?

TopTV’s plans to broadcast porn were halted after the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa) won a court interdict prohibiting the pay channel from doing so. LIESL PEYPER spoke to Icasa spokesperson Jubie Matlou

Icasa’s reaction seemed a bit, well, drastic and last-minute. Was it because of public pressure?

TopTV applied for a licence to broadcast pornography in September last year. Why didn’t Icasa respond then?

There was no delay (from Icasa). On a matter of this nature we had to get an interdict because we wanted to first subject the matter to public input processes through public hearings. That’s why we interdicted TopTV.

What was the sentiment from people who took part in the public hearings you’ve already held?

The majority of people who made oral submissions were against the pornographic channels.

What about people who say as free citizens it’s our right to watch whatever we want, including pornography?

Those people should have made submissions during the public hearings. We asked all interested parties to make submissions so those who are for this kind of content didn’t make any oral submissions. I’m not sure if they made written submissions but they didn’t pitch up.

And what about other TV channels who apply to broadcast pornography?

They would very likely have to follow the same procedure through public hearings.

One TV channel has in the past broadcast “soft porn” late in the evenings. What’s different with TopTV? Well, when MultiChoice raised the matter they

One of the many concerns surrounding TopTV’s planned porn channels is how easily accessible they would be to children. didn’t apply (to Icasa for permission) but they tested public opinion. Porn is rated by the Film and Publication Board. The one I think was soft porn, which was kind of tolerated in a way. But the ones rated as being very offensive by the Film and Publication Board – that was what MultiChoice was testing and there was strong objection from its subscribers so they dropped the idea. The Film and Publication Board is against explicit intercourse whether it’s transmitted via phone, magazines or television. It’s against the Film and Publications Act.

Before we go . . . What’s your view? Should pornographic channels be allowed?

It’s not about my view. It’s the decision of the authority.

What South Africans have to say

“I’m happy about [the interdict]. For those who want porn, go out and buy it, case closed,” an IOL user said. “It’s not about porn, it’s about Icasa being able to withdraw broadcast rights. This now sets a precedent. [Freedom] is freedom regardless of what the individual likes,” a News24 reader argued. “We all get screwed left, right and centre, so why not have it on TV?” a Twitter user tweeted. What are your thoughts on the issue? Tell us on Facebook (NewsNowMag) and Twitter (@NewsNowMag) or email

The story in 60 seconds

TOPTV applied for a licence to broadcast porn in September 2011. When it didn’t get a reply in the required 60-day period it threatened to go ahead with the launch. That is when the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa) went to court to stop them, arguing the public consultation process must be followed. A final decision on the matter will be made 31 January. All parties who gave oral submissions at an Icasa-hosted public consultation session were against it, most notably Childline and the Film and Publication Board, which argued the channels would expose South Africa’s “already sexualised children” to pornography in their homes, City Press reported.


Any weighty matter is subjected to public hearings. In the past, when you applied for a community radio station, you’d subject it to public hearings. Now it’s no longer the case because it’s an administrative decision. But for a matter like pornography it raises many emotions and we have to subject it to a public process. So that’s why we wanted to conduct the public hearings and that’s what we said in our interdict application. We started with the public hearings, then we’ll deliberate on the matter and come up with a decision whether we’ll authorise TopTV’s porn channels at the end of this month.

Porn on SA TV - Should it be allowed?