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the fight to keep porn off tv

the fight to keep porn off tv

The legal battle to keep pornography off South African television has been a lengthy, and, at times, confusing one. As a church we were directly involved and have also been actively supporting Cause for Justice, a non-profit human rights organisation, who’ve continued the fight in the South African courts.

A summary of the events surrounding the application:

 

November 2012

In November 2012 On Digital Media (Pty) Ltd’s “TopTV” first applied to the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) for permission to broadcast three pornographic channels.

ICASA published the application in the Government Gazette, but not in the mainstream media, which meant that the majority of South Africans were unaware of it. Despite this and due, in part, to pro-active intervention (through objection letters) by Shofar members, some 644 written representations were sent to ICASA, of which 94 per cent opposed the application.

 

March 2013

ICASA held a single public hearing about the application in Johannesburg. Together with Doctors for Life, the African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP), Hettie Brittz, Africa Christian Action and Errol Naidoo from the Family Policy Institute, Shofar was invited to make oral representations. (We were one of eight out of a possible 19 organisations who’d submitted objection letters to be invited and the invitation to the public hearing was most likely thanks to the high volume of letters from our members.)

For more detailed feedback on the hearing, read the article in our June 2013 global newsletter.

Despite the written representations and oral submissions made at the hearing, ICASA approved the application in April 2013 and the channels began airing.

 

August 2013

Cause for Justice, in turn, began preparing to approach the High Court to review ICASA’s decision.

 

October 2013

The Chinese investors (Star Times) who saved TopTV from bankruptcy changed the name to StarSat.

 

December 2013

Cause for Justice applied to the North Gauteng High Court to force ICASA to reconsider its decision to allow StarSat to broadcast porn. Two other organisations, Justice Alliance of South Africa and Doctors for Life NPC also launched applications in the High Court, joining in Cause For Justice’s efforts.

 

January 2014

Both ICASA and StarSat filed papers in the North Gauteng High Court notifying Cause for Justice that they were opposing the application. This marked the beginning of the legal battle which consisted of the exchange of court papers during the first half of 2014.

 

August 2014

All three court cases were heard in one hearing from 11 to 14 August 2014 in the Western Cape High Court.

 

September/October 2014

Western Cape High Court Judge Lee Bozalek requested further oral arguments to deal with a specific legal point which had supernaturally come to light on the last day of the hearing held in August.

On 13 October 2014 all the parties concerned made further oral submissions in court. In this hearing especially StarSat made a 180 degree turn on its previously bullish stance on the interpretation of the law and of its rights.

 

November 2014

On Monday 3 November Justice Bozalek ruled in favour of Cause For Justice and its co-applicants, setting aside ICASA’s decision to allow StarSat to broadcast three pornographic television channels and ordering ICASA to reconsider its decision afresh. The effect of the judgment was that StarSat had to stop broadcasting pornography immediately, pending ICASA’s reconsideration of the matter, and compensate the applicants for their legal fees incurred in running the court case.

StarSat and ICASA’s subsequently applied for leave to appeal against the judgment given by Justice Bozalek.

 

December 2014

On 10 December StarSat and ICASA’s application for leave to appeal was dismissed with costs, which means that in the High Court’s opinion there is no reasonable prospect that StarSat and ICASA would be successful in persuading a higher court to come to a different decision to the one made by Justice Bozalek.

 

January 2015 and beyond

This battle (the legal battle, as opposed to the one for the renewal or destruction of the hearts and minds of people) is likely to continue raging into 2015 and thereafter. Please continue in prayer and other means of support until the victory has finally been won when ICASA rules that neither StarSat, nor any other broadcaster, is allowed to broadcast pornography in South Africa.

To find out more about Cause for Justice and to support their work, visit their website and follow them on Facebook and Twitter. They are currently working to keep religious observances and religious instruction in South African schools, after legal proceedings were instituted in the Johannesburg High Court by a Stellenbosch-based secular/humanistic organisation against six public schools, effectively asking for Christianity be removed and banned from the schools.

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