South African Regulator Approves Three TopTV Adult Channels

CAPE TOWN, South Africa—Determining that there was no legal justification to prevent distribution of adult programming to South African consumers, the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa) has ruled that TopTV may finally launch three adult satellite channels—Playboy TV, Desire TV and Private Spice—between the hours of 8 p.m. and 5 a.m. only. The company also promised to employ methods to prevent minors from accessing the for-pay channels. In approving the application, which was first submitted by On Digital Media (ODM) in 2011, Icasa also pointedly rejected most of the objections submitted in opposition to the application as being “moral” in nature.

Spokesperson Paseka Maleka said Wednesday that Icasa had determined that that "there is no law of general application prohibiting the production and distribution of adult content in the Republic. Only the production and distribution of child pornography is expressly prohibited by law.

"The Authority,” he added, “has also considered all submissions made in respect of this application from all interested stakeholders and it was found that most of the representations made were based on moral grounds; rather than a research evidence to demonstrate some of the conclusive remarks linking pornography and gender-based violence. It is the Authority's view that indeed there is no basis or law for the rejection of Top TV's application.”

The decision is especially timely considering TopTv’s rickety financial condition. According to Screen Africa, “The satellite pay-TV operator published its Business Rescue Plan on 17 April and has scheduled a meeting of creditors, followed by separate meetings of other holders of a voting interest (in the case of ODM, preference shareholders and then its ordinary shareholders), for Tuesday, 30 April at 10h00 at Bowman Gilfillan in Sandton, Johannesburg.”

The rather steamy saga was covered by the Mail&Guardian. TopTV has not yet indicated when the channels will launch.