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Porn TV a criminal offence, court hears

By Sapa | 2014-08-12 08:24:47.0

The licencing of three pornographic television channels is a contravention of two criminal statutes, not-for-profit organisation Cause for Justice told the Western Cape High Court on Monday.

Their advocate Murray Bridgman argued that the Independent Communications Authority of SA (Icasa) had contravened the Sexual Offences Amendment Act and the Films and Publications Act when granting the licences.

Regarding the sexual offences act, he said On Digital Media (ODM), operating as Top TV and later StarSat, had admitted it was likely or may well happen that children would view their pornography.

"That is the form of legal intent known as dolis eventualis," he said, explaining that a party could be held guilty where they knew the outcome of their actions would cause harm.

He said the extremely resourceful child would be able to bypass the required pin and other security features for the subscription channels.

This amounted to contravening section 19 of the sexual offences act, which dealt with exposure to or display of pornography to children.

Cause for Justice, Doctors for Life, and the Justice Alliance of SA are challenging Icasa's decision last April to grant a licence to On Digital Media to air Playboy TV, Desire TV, and Private Spice (rebranded as the Brazzers channel).

The licence was granted on condition that the three channels be offered as subscribed packages with age verification and other security features.

Bridgman said ODM was also contravening the Films and Publications Act by exposing X18 content to children.

"If ODM is challenged for contravening the act, doubtless they will say we are doing so under government licence... we are not guilty."

He argued that it was therefore imperative to revoke the licences for the safety of children, especially those in unordered and unprotected households.

Bridgman added that while the courts treated pornography as a protected form of expression, it had relatively little constitutional value and was outweighed by the needs to protect vulnerable groups.

The matter has been set down for argument until Wednesday.

 

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