TopTV: Shareholder vows to pull out if porn channel goes ahead
One of pay-TV operator On Digital Media’s (ODM’s) largest shareholders says it will pull its 20% stake if it launches its 24-hour pornography on TopTV
Kopano ke Matla Investment Company, the investment arm of the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu), made the decision after Cosatu voiced its vehement opposition to TopTV’s plan last week.
The move could signal the death knell to TopTV’s plans to be the first to broadcast pornography in SA.
Kopano’s announcement is the latest blow to hit ODM’s planned three-channel bouquet of adult content, which has met with scorn from various sectors.
Cosatu warned TopTV on Thursday that if it went ahead with its plan to broadcast pornography then it would force Kopano to "disinvest".
Correspondence from Collin Matjila, executive director of Kopano, to Cosatu stated that the TopTV board of directors had met on the matter. "The majority view (including Kopano) was the same as expressed in your (Cosatu’s) letter," the letter said.
However, Mr Matjila said that due to the potential contractual consequences with the content suppliers — Playboy TV UK/ Benelux — it was agreed to let the Independent Communications Authority of SA (Icasa) complete the adjudication process and make a final decision.The contract includes three 24-hour channels — Playboy Europe, Private Spice and Adult XXX. Icasa is expected to rule on the application by January 31 (2012).
However, Matjila said the board had also resolved not to appeal the decision if Icasa turned down the application. "From a Kopano perspective, we have noted the directive in your letter and will abide accordingly should this become necessary," read the statement.
Cosatu said it believed TopTV’s plans to broadcast pornography would "exploit and demean women and girls, reinforce sexist attitudes and encourage the abuse of women, which is already a massive problem".
"Such programmes will contribute to a lowering of moral standards in the country and further erode the revolutionary morality of our struggle movement," it said.
Cosatu spokesman Patrick Craven told Business Day the federation was happy with Kopano’s response and that it now awaited Icasa’s decision.
TopTV vice-president for sales and marketing Marius Liebenberg did not respond to specific questions. "We are waiting for Icasa to come back to us before we can consider any further plans regarding Playboy," he said.
A high court interdict last Monday stopped TopTV from launching the pornography service on Friday. TopTV had decided to go ahead with the launch without waiting for permission from Icasa.
TopTV argued that it could do so because Icasa had not finalised its application within 60 days, as stipulated in its regulations. However, Icasa won an urgent court interdict barring TopTV from going ahead with the launch.