A not-for-profit organisation, Cause for Justice, says it will fight a decision by the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa) to allow StarSat (previously TopTV) to broadcast pornographic material on its three channels set aside for such content. The channels launched this month.
Cause for Justice, which describes itself as a ‘human rights organisation’, believes Icasa ignored “overwhelming public opposition” when it approved On Digital Media’s application.
“As a state institution having its origins in the Constitution, any decision of Icasa may be scrutinised by the courts,” Cause For Justice’s lawyer, Wynand Viljoen from Smit & Viljoen Attorneys in Stellenbosch said in a statement.
“We have accordingly issued a court application in the North Gauteng High Court requesting the court to review and set aside Icasa’s decision to authorise pornographic channels on South African television. The application was served on Icasa, ODM, Stephen Sipho Mncube (the chairman of ODM), Petrus Francois Van den Steen (the business practitioner of ODM) and the Minister of Communications,” he said.
Cause for Justice said its case rests on four issues: It says the decision was taken “because irrelevant considerations were taken into account and/or relevant considerations were not considered; that Icasa committed a reviewable error/s of law; that Icasa did not follow a fair administrative procedure; and that the conclusions reached by Icasa are “neither rationally connected to the reasons given by Icasa, nor to the information before Icasa”.
The group says it has brought the application to court “out of an honest and sincere concern for the people of South Africa and we are accordingly acting in the public interest”. It believes research shows a “conclusive link between exposure to pornography and harm to society”.
It says the harm to society, even in a subscription service environment, outweighs the potential benefit. “South Africa is a country with extremely high rates of violence, especially domestic and sexual violence,” it says. “Women and often also children, are the ones worst affected by these forms of violence. Research has indicated that pornography is a contributing factor to domestic violence.”
A 20% share of ODM was bought by Chinese conglomerate, StarTimes after the company was put into business rescue in late 2012, but its economic interest in the company is 65%, says Tech Central’s Duncan McLeod. The pay-tv operation was renamed StarSat. StarTimes is involved in various digital television operations in Africa.
CEO Eddie Mbalo told ITWeb, “SA is not an island. We will not control what South Africans watch.”