Is SA Too Prude for TV Porn?

No TV porn for SA

No matter how hard we try and act like we’re all liberal and cool in South Africa, there are certain issues that continue to remain…ahem… sticky.
Pornography on television is one of those issues which seems to rear its’ head every few years, only to be unceremoniously shoved back into its box after raising the ire of Christians and women’s groups countrywide.
The thing is, while those opposed to TV porn are quite happy to publicly state their case, the pro-porners aren’t quite in the same position. Very few people (particularly in our still conservative culture) are willing to take to the streets with their placards proclaiming, ‘We want Porn!’ But, watch it secretively (with the sound muted) while their families sleep, they will.
Research continues to show that there is a captive market for TV porn in SA, however, every company that tries to supply the demand is branded as foul and inappropriate.
Still, many of the same men and women that slam the idea of XXX rated TV programming, will be the ones who indulge in private.

The PSat ad causing controversy

This week Top TV has been getting their money’s worth in publicity following two separate porn-related queries. First, a rogue satellite installations provider (African Satellite Installations (ASI)) under the banner of PSat, announced plans to hijack the Top TV satellite system in order to stream an illegal French porn channel into local homes. The idea is, the channel, called French Lover’s TV, will be broadcast on the Astra 4A satellite – the same satellite used by TopTV, except subscribers will pay a R99 a month fee to ISA to hire a second decoder and smart card to view it.
The problem is, this is illegal, and other providers have tried this before and failed. The now-defunct Free2View also couldn’t get it right, nor could OtherChoice – who tried to piggy-back on MultiChoice’s infrastructure in 2002. In fact, Icasa actually laid a criminal charge alleging that OtherChoice and MultiChoice blocked their smartcards from working in its decoders. Apparently even signals that originate from outside of South Africa need permission from Icasa to operate in the country.

Will it happen?

So, Top TV have also been quick to distance themselves from PSat, who have used their name extensively in their campaign – even stating that they will be launching legal proceedings against them. But this may not be because they are opposed to their illegal activities (which they do actually stand to benefit from…). Rather, it appeared in the Government Gazette in late November that Top TV has applied for authorisation of three of their own porn channels!

A shocking about turn from the company, whose CEO stated when they launched that they has no plans to introduce adult programming and ‘don’t want to poison the minds of millions of SA children out there.’ A lot can change in 12 months apparently…

Top TV has confirmed their plans and stated that the additional channels will ‘only be accessible as a secure encrypted and separate subscription package on the pay TV platform’ and there would be no way for children to stumble upon them.

Opposition will always be there

The time has now passed for public protests and Icasa has confirmed that it is currently reviewing the request which may be followed by a public hearing.

As expected lobby groups are already up in arms. The ‘Helping Hand Campaign’ has already drawn as many as 44 000 signatures and others including the Christian Action Network, the Film and Publication Board and the Ministry for Women, Children and Persons with Disabilities have all opposed prior requests and are sure to make a stand.

One has to wonder how long the stand off will ultimately last though. Where there is demand, supply will eventually be met and, as Top TV put it, “Television viewers have the right to choose what content they view in the privacy of their own homes.” If you want the porn, you pay and subscribe to the channels. Those who don’t needn’t do so. Pornography is readily available in stores and online, so what difference will it make if you choose to pay for it to be delivered to your home TV.

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