THE BIG DEBATE BURSTS BACK - WITH REDI TLHABI

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

StarSat porn appeal bid denied by High Court; broadcasting regulator must relook decision to allow StarSat to broadcast sex channels.


StarSat's porn appeal has been denied by the Western Cape High Court today, with On Digital Media (ODM) and StarTimes SA again ordered to shut down the hardcore pornographic channels it started broadcasting immediately, and South Africa's broadcasting regulator ordered to review the decision to allow StarSat's to broadcast these channels.

ODM and China's StarTimes Media SA has been broadcasting a sex package of TV channels for R159 per month since November 2013, following two highly controversial applications at the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa), the first of which was denied and the second of which was approved in April 2013.

According to reports StarSat's subscriber base has plunged from around 400 000 to between 80 000 and 85 000. Asked what StarSat's subscriber number is, the company on Wednesday told TV with Thinus "StarSat does not publicise its subscriber numbers".

According to court documents ODM and StarTimes Media SA has around 400 subscribers for the sex channels.

ODM, currently in business rescue, denies that it's planning on porn to save the company, saying that "research conducted by ODM shows that there is majority support and demand for adult-based channels". 

ODM which at launch in May 2010 promised it wouldn't broadcast pornographic channels, says that "providing subscribers with more choice allows ODM to be a competitor in an environment filled with opportunities".

At the beginning of November Judge Lee Bozalek in the Western Cape High Court ordered StarSat to stop broadcasting its hardcore pornography TV channels in South Africa after the the non-profit organisations Justice Alliance of South Africa (Jasa), Cause for Justice and Doctors for Life took Icasa and StarSat to court for allowing and broadcasting pornography on television in South Africa.

Icasa admitted to court that the regulator had failed to appoint experts to consider StarSat's porn plan.

The struggling On Digital Media also failed to register with the Film and Publications Board (FPB) as a porn purveyor.

The Woodmead-based satellite pay-TV operator appealed the High Court ruling, and today the High Court rejected ODM's appeal, again finding that the broadcasting regulator has to relook the process and decision which gave StarSat (formerly TopTV) permission to broadcast the hardcore pornography in the form of Brazzers, Desire TV and Playboy TV channels.

The ruling also stands that ODM and Icasa pay the court case cost.

"These are matters which quintessentially lie in the province and expertise of Icasa," said Judge Lee Bozalek.

In a statement issued after today's ruling, ODM says that the company "is currently consulting with its attorneys tod iscuss the next steps and despite this setback ODM will continue to ensure that citizens in South Africa have the freedom to view the programmes they wish to".