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TopTV confirms application to broadcast adult content channels

Published: 18 January 2013

TopTV confirmed on Thursday, 17 January that an application to broadcast three adult content channels on its pay-TV platform was lodged with the country’s regulator, the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa), in October 2012.

While the law encouraged public participation around the issue, as is the right of every South African citizen according to the country’s Constitution, CEO Eddie Mbalo has pointed out that the final decision regarding the outcome of the application rests with Icasa, based on the merits of the application.

“There have been many inferences made in the media that TopTV has made this application in a last-ditch effort to save the organisation, which was voluntarily placed in a business rescue process by the board towards the end of 2012,” commented Mbalo.

“However, nothing could be further from the truth. As previously stated in the statement issued by TopTV at the time, the business requires a capital injection from a strategic equity partner. It would therefore be both naïve and malicious to conclude that the granting of permission to broadcast channels would be sufficient to save a company that requires a capital injection. As such, we would encourage the media to research and familiarise themselves, and thus educate their audiences, with the business rescue process as per the new Companies Act (under Section 129), considering this is a new law in the way businesses are governed.”

The current application that has been submitted to Icasa differs from the previous one, and takes into consideration the various submissions, viewpoints and comments made previously. “We acknowledge that TopTV’s failure to participate in the previous hearings denied us the opportunity to state our viewpoint clearly and to set with record straight with regards to how the channels would be broadcast and the necessary protective mechanisms that have been put in place. We are willing to listen to differing points of view, but equally expect everyone to respect the democratic rights of all South Africans, including those consumers who have expressed an interest in subscribing to such an offering."

Mbalo added that South Africa’s Constitution guarantees all citizens their democratic right to read, view and consume material of their choice in the privacy of their own space, so long as that consumption is not in any way in contravention of the law. This right, he said, was as important a constitutional right as the right of all citizens to be protected from exploitation and abuse.

“It should also be noted that TopTV, and all other broadcasters for that matter, are not precluded from scheduling adult content in the normal course of their business, as our competitors have done in the past, and continue to do. TopTV has continually avoided going this route in its belief that there should be sufficient protection, particularly for children who might otherwise access this content in the normal course of their television viewing.

“We believe that South Africans are mature enough to take personal responsibility for their television viewing habits. We believe people are capable of choosing for themselves what they would like to view in the privacy of their homes, and that the vast majority of South Africans either welcome the prospect of adult television, or acknowledge the right of others to watch adult TV, even if they themselves are not particularly interested in this content,” concluded Mbalo.

With regards to the current business rescue process, he stated that the company is in advanced talks with interested parties, but that the appointed business rescue practitioner would communicate further on this issue at the appropriate time, following discussions with shareholders, creditors and other affected parties.
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