TopTV and ICASA throw down over porn channels

TopTV says that the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) has automatically approved the three channels it plans to use to broadcast Playboy TV through a regulatory bungle.

However, ICASA maintains that TopTV is not authorised to broadcast the three channels and needs to submit written responses to public comments it has received.

Asked about their position on the matter, Thato Mahapa of TopTV’s regulatory affairs provided the following statement:

Firstly, it is us who warned ICASA of its non-compliance with the regulations and they did not listen. Secondly, we warned ICASA of the consequences of non-adherence to the regulations, including the automatic approval of the channels by virtue of regulation 3.5, and ICASA chose not to heed the call.

As a result, the channels are automatically approved.

We duly notified ICASA of this prior to and after the expiry of the 60 day period referred to in the regulations. ICASA is yet to comment on or dispute our position.

Despite regarding their application for the three new channels as approved, TopTV said that they won’t begin broadcasting in December 2011.

“We will issue a media release closer to the date of launch,” TopTV said.

Asked to respond to TopTV’s position, ICASA confirmed that it did receive a letter from On Digital Media (ODM), TopTV’s parent company.

The letter stated that in ODM’s view, the 60 day period within which the Authority was required to decide on the matter had lapsed and the channels are deemed authorised, ICASA said.

“The Authority does not wish to deal with the merits and demerits of the application, as this will be the subject matter for public hearing, but wish to indicate that the process of considering the application is still underway,” ICASA said.

According to ICASA they have received written representations from members of the public following the publication of the ODM channel authorisation application in the government gazette. ICASA said that it is awaiting written responses from ODM and thereafter a public hearing will be convened.

“As far as the Authority is concerned, ODM is not authorised to broadcast the proposed three additional video channels,” ICASA said.

ICASA added that it is within its right to institute further engagements on matters of regulatory nature to ensure that decisions taken are lawful, reasonable and procedurally fair. “The ODM case is no exception,” ICASA said.

“It will be unfortunate if ODM opts to disregard the public consultation process that is currently underway and which it is very much aware of.”

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TopTV and ICASA throw down over porn channels