Porn channels legal, says Icasa

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Cape Town - The Independent Communications Authority of SA (Icasa) did not find anything in law to stop it from authorising the broadcast of adult pornography on pay channels, its lawyer told the Western Cape High Court on Tuesday.

Icasa lawyer Paul Kennedy said the three Playboy channels that On Digital Media (ODM) asked to be licensed were in accordance with X18 rating of the Films and Publications Act and carried warnings at all times.

“These are three mainstream channels which are permitted by the laws overseas and by the broadcasters,” he argued.

“Icasa was also entitled to take into account the fact that we have legislation here which deals with inappropriate, unacceptable, unlawful, impermissible forms of pornography.”

He said any breaches would be taken up with Icasa, the Broadcasting Complaints Commission of SA, the National Prosecuting Authority and other authorities with the power to sanction.

Kennedy was defending why Icasa granted three licences to ODM (operating as Top TV and later StarSat) last April to broadcast Playboy TV, Desire TV and Private Spice as porn pay packages with security features.

Icasa agreed to amend the licence when Private Spice was rebranded Brazzers.

Its initial licensing decision was under scrutiny by the court after applications by the Justice Alliance of SA (Jasa), Cause for Justice and Doctors for Life.

On Monday, Jasa lawyer Darryl Cooke alleged that ODM had given Icasa the wrong impression about the channels' content when applying for the licences.

He said Icasa had been assured the channels would show loving, healthy sex between consenting adults, when it was his opinion that the shows promoted infidelity and unsafe sex.

Kennedy said no one was alleging that ODM obtained their licences by fraud.

“If it had done so, this would have been a review ground and no doubt, our client would have been extremely concerned if there had been any fraud committed by ODM.”

He defended Icasa's decision not to appoint experts to assist in the consideration of ODM's application.

“The committee felt there was no need for that. The matter was not so complex. What would these experts in fact be doing? What were they needed for?” he asked.

“The failure to appoint experts did not render the procedure unlawful or unfair.”

ODM was expected to present its argument on Wednesday.

Sapa



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