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Christian and civil society groups are uniting behind a boycott of TopTV as the company seeks permission to broadcast three adult entertainment channels, the Family Policy Institute said on Monday.
“(The) Family Policy Institute (FPI), in partnership with severalmajor Christian denominations in South Africa, has launched a nation-wide boycott of TopTV, its advertisers, and sponsors,” said director Errol Naidoo in a statement.
The boycott was announced by the institute on Saturday at a march outside Parliament in Cape Town against rape and violence against women and children.
“The Christian church is deeply concerned that the introduction of three pornographic channels in South Africa will exacerbate the current crisis of rape and violence against vulnerable women and children,” Naidoo said.
“Research overwhelmingly indicates the widespread and easy availability of pornography is harmful to society.”
On Thursday, the Independent Communications Authority of SA (Icasa) heard an application by TopTV to broadcast the channels.
Arguing for TopTV at the hearings at Icasa's office in Sandton, lawyer Steven Budlender reportedly said Icasa did not have the legal right to refuse the station permission to broadcast three subscription adult entertainment channels from abroad.
The furore emerged despite TopTV’s chief executive Eddie Mbalo insisting that the proposed content was “not porn” and plans for the proposed channels to form part of a separate bouquet and a PIN system required to gain access.
“What is being presented on these channels is material that is scripted and has been carefully crafted to suit the target audiences,” said Mbalo.
He added that it was definitely not “XXX” or “hard core” because the content still had to meet certain standards and that was why he preferred the term “adult entertainment”.
“It is responsible content meant for couples.”
Opposing forces have gained momentum, however, with Naidoo stating that there was a further concern as increasing numbers of children were being exposed to pornography on the Internet and on TV.
“Introducing three porn channels in SA will significantly increase the risk of children being exposed to hard-core sexually explicit images,” he said.
“Pornography demeans and degrades women and reinforces the stereotype that women are mere sex objects.”
Christian churches that have joined the boycott are the Apostolic Faith Mission of SA, Assemblies of God of SA, the Baptist Union of SA, the Southern African Catholic Bishops Conference, and Church of England in SA.
The Dutch Reformed Church, the Full Gospel Church of SA, the Methodist Church of Southern Africa, the Evangelical Alliance of South Africa, and the Association of Vineyard Churches in SA have also committed to the boycott.
“We do this as part of our wider campaign to protect the dignity of women and children in the nation,” said Naidoo.
“FPI will also encourage other faith groups in South Africa to join the national boycott of TopTV and its advertisers.”
Earlier this year, TopTV appointed a legal team known for defending speech and media freedom issues to fight its case.
TopTV is hoping to broadcast the channels Playboy, Desire, and Private Spice between 8pm and 5am.
The initial application made provision for three 24-hour channels, but this plan was abandoned. - Sapa and Cape Argus