The StarSat/ ICASA Cause

Cause for Justice is one of three parties who applied to Court at the end of 2013 for the review and setting aside of ICASA’s decision to allow STARSAT to broadcast three pornographic channels on South African television.

Prelude to the High Court Case

StarSat first applied to ICASA at the end of November 2012, for the authorisation to broadcast three pornographic channels: Playboy TV, Desire TV and Private Spice. The application was published by ICASA in the Government Gazette, but in none of the mainstream media outlets, resulting in the majority of South Africans being unaware of the application. Nonetheless, some 644 written representations were submitted to ICASA of which 94% opposed the application. Despite the written representations and oral submissions made at a single public hearing held by ICASA in Johannesburg during March 2013, ICASA approved the application to air pornographic channels on South African television in April 2013.

Initiating proceedings in the High Court

Cause For Justice brought a court application in December 2013 on behalf of the South African public, requesting the Court to compel ICASA to reconsider its decision to allow StarSat to air pornographic material. Some of the arguments included in CFJ’s court application are as follow:

  • Pornography is psychologically harmful to children, and the medical and scientific implications of this fact;
  • Pornography is addictive. It is a form of sex addiction. It is inseparable from and linked to other forms of sex addiction;
  • Pornography actually incites some men, those who are prone to such things, to commit violence and rape;
  • Exposure to so-called “soft” pornography creates a desire for viewing progressively more sexually explicit material, in the process pornography desensitises people (men in particular) to rape and gender violence and damages or destroys healthy loving relationships and families.
  • Insufficient pin lock system that children can easily bypass;
  • ICASA did not give the South African public adequate notice or time to consider and object against StarSat’s application.

Two other organisations have also launched applications in the Cape High Court in opposition to the pornographic channels, thereby joining in CFJ’s efforts to keep South African television free from pornography.

The verdict

Western Cape High Court Judge, Lee Bozalek, on 3 November ruled in favour of CFJ and its co-applicants and set aside the decision by ICASA to allow StarSat to broadcast 3 pornographic television channels. StarSat indicated that they will approach the High Court for leave to appeal. CFJ’s legal team opposed the application. 

25 March 2015 – No appeal granted

The supreme court of appeal dismissed StarSat’s leave to appeal the high court judgment with costs. StarSat to stop broadcast of pornographic channels following the dismissal.


Media Release 5 August 2014  [English pdf]  [Afrikaans pdf]

Founding Affidavit December 2013 [pdf]

Replying Affidavit July 2014 [pdf]

Judgment delivered by Judge Bozalek 3 November 2014 [link]


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