Senior Christian leaders who met in Pretoria yesterday (July 31, 2013) say that if ailing pay-TV provider TopTV goes ahead with its plans to launch three pornography channels they will intensify a nationwide boycott of the broadcaster and its supporters.
TopTV hopes that the addition of the porn channels, which was approved by broadcasting regulator ICASA in April 2013, will help to save the business. The porn launch is being held up by the business rescue process which includes negotiations with Chinese broadcaster and prospective shareholder StarTimes.
In a statement released after yesterday’s meeting, the Christian leaders say research overwhelmingly indicates that easy access to pornography – whether on the internet or television – is harmful to women and children and destructive to marriage and families.
“As a result, the undersigned Christian leaders and its affiliate organisations in South Africa reiterate our commitment to the nationwide boycott of TopTV, its advertisers, sponsors and retail partners,” says the statement.
The church leaders say they will immediately cancel the boycott if TopTV scraps its porn plans and commits to providing family-friendly content.
Spiralling rates of rape, sexual violence
“The Christian Church is tragically aware of the spiralling rates of rape and other forms of sexual violence and abuse of women and children in South Africa. We are therefore horrified that a government agency like ICASA would provide a failed business a license to broadcast three hard-core pornographic channels in a nation where a woman or child is raped or sexually abused every few minutes,” say the Christian leaders.
The statement cites a media report that records rapes of elderly women in various parts of SA and reports an expert opinion that rape of the elderly is on the increase.
“We are extremely concerned about governments failure to effectively combat the widespread abuse of women, children and the elderly in South Africa. The South African Government’s indirect condoning of the broadcast of hard-core pornography on television, coupled with its failure to significantly reduce sexual crimes, makes South Africa one of the most dangerous countries in the world for women, children and the elderly to live. We ask why, when governments like that of Great Britain are introducing legislation to restrict access to pornography on the Internet, our government insists on liberalising an already liberal broadcasting regime.
“We, the undersigned, as Christian leaders in South Africa, call on our government to fulfil its constitutional obligations to restore the safety and dignity of women, children and the elderly in SA by urgently amending the Broadcasting Act to prohibit all forms of pornography on South African television. We further encourage government to install filters on the internet at tier-one level to block all sexually explicit content entering the country. This measure will serve to protect vulnerable children from being exposed to hard-core pornography on the internet, including adults being harassed by unwanted guerrilla marketing tactics by unscrupulous porn merchants,” concludes the statement.
The statement is signed by:
The Apostolic Faith Mission of SA (AFM/AGS) – Rev Isak Burger (President)
The Assemblies of God of SA (AOG) – Rev Ernest Hlophe (General Secretary)
The Baptist Union of SA – Rev Angelo Scheepers (General Secretary)
The Southern African Catholic Bishops Conference – Archbishop Stephen Brislin(President)
Church of England in SA (CESA) – Rev Desmond Inglesby (Presiding Bishop)
The Dutch Reformed Church (DRC) – Rev Braam Hanekom (Moderator)
The Full Gospel Church of SA – Rev Anton van Deventer (Moderator)
The Methodist Church of Southern Africa – Rev Ziphozihle Siwa (Presiding Bishop)
The Evangelical Alliance of SA – (TEASA) – Rev Moss Ntlha (Secretary General)
The Association of Vineyard Churches in SA – Rev Costa Mitchell (National Director)
Christian Family Church SA – Rev Johnny Slabbert (COO)
His People Christian Churches SA – Rev Gilian Davids
Shofar Churches SA – Rev Fred May
Family Policy Institute – Errol Naidoo (Founder and Director).