Porn channel fined R25,000 for pleasing its 284 subscribers

07 May 2015 - 15:18 By Dominic Skelton


Digital satellite TV broadcaster StarSat got more than just a telling off by the broadcasting watchdog for continuing to show pornographic content after a court order forbade it to. The company was fined R25,000 by the Broadcasting Complaints Commission of South Africa (BCCSA) for “knowingly” continuing the unauthorised service while its application to appeal the court's decision had not yet been lodged.The Independent Communications Authority of South Africa had allowed On Digital Media‚ which runs StarSat‚ to broadcast the pornographic content on three channels but the Western Cape High Court retracted the authorisation in November last year.StarSat admitted to continuing the service for almost four weeks during December and January in anticipation of their appeal‚ which was subsequently dismissed by the Supreme Court of Appeal.The company asked to be let off without a fine‚ saying that the service was only available on subscription and locked by two security pins. Subscribers had to prove they were over 18 years old and the service had only 284 subscribers.However‚ this only served to reduce its fine from the BCCSA’s maximum penalty of R60,000.The council of the Justice Alliance of South Africa‚ which lodged the complaint with the BCCSA‚ argued that regardless of the content and protections‚ providing an unauthorised service knowingly justified more than a reprimand.The BCCSA agreed.“A fine should be imposed to demonstrate to the respondent and other broadcasters that it is a serious contravention to broadcast without authorisation. However‚ there are circumstances that support [the approach] that the maximum should not be imposed‚” BCCSA chairman Kobus van Rooyen said.Van Rooyen said the fine of R25,000 was “sufficient to indicate the seriousness of the offence".The BCCSA said the issue was not that pornography was broadcast but that there was broadcast without authorisation. It said the broadcasting of non-violent pornography was permitted by the Code for Subscription Broadcasters if it was branded ‘X18’. - RDM News Wire, TMG Courts and Law

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