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Wednesday, August 13, 2014

STARSAT PORN COURT CASE: Broadcasting regulator allowed struggling company to come into bedrooms, lounges of SA with pornography, court hears.


South Africa's broadcasting regulator, allowed the struggling South African satellite pay-TV operator On Digital Media (ODM) to broadcast pornography into the bedrooms, lounges and living rooms of South Africans to make money, argued the group in the Western Cape High Court who've brought an application for StarSat's sex TV channels licence to be set aside.

The Justice Alliance of South Africa (Jasa), Cause for Justice and Doctors for Life are taking StarSat to court over the Woodmead-based satellite-TV operator's porn TV channels.

The group argues that StarSat's (formerly TopTV) broadcasting of pornography on South African television contravenes section 19 of the Sexual Offences Amendment Act, which deals with the exposure to, or display of pornography to children, as well as the Films and Publications Act.

Besides StarSat, the respondents in the porn TV case include the chairperson of South African's broadcasting regulator, Stephen Mncube of the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa); Peter van der Steen who is StarSat's business rescue practitioner since the company is in business rescue; and the minister of communications, Faith Muthambi.

"They have allowed a company who is in financial straits to come into the bedrooms, lounges and living rooms of the nation," Reg Willis from Doctors for Life told the Western Cape High Court.

The group argued in court that ODM and StarTimes Media are contravening the Films and Publications Act by exposing children to X18 content on television.

Icasa granted ODM a licence to broadcasting its bouquet of porn channels in April 2013 after StarSat brought a second application to show porn on TV to subscribers. Out of the 644 written application, over 90% opposed the granting of a porn TV licence to StarSat.

StarSat started showing Playboy TV, Desire TV and Private Spice as a stand-alone sex bouquet which requires a separate subscription and PIN. StarSat quietly changed Private Spice to the hardcore pornographic Brazzers TV channel.

StarSat has previously declined to give subscription numbers for its porn bouquet but according to court papers has about 400 subscribers.

Cause for Life's advocate Murray Bridgman argued that ODM and StarSat's pornography TV channels is to make money for the company rather than a form of artistic expression.

"It's a peripheral right to make money for ODM, to try and get ODM out of the dwang [difficulties]."

"I say that is not the sort of constitutional right that needs to be defended or upheld by any administrator," Murray Bridgman told the Western Cape High Court.

Murray Bridgman said that pornography is an issue that impacts on all South African communities as a whole and on the constitutional rights to dignity, equality and security.