What may be reason for celebration for TopTV today, is reason for concern for members of the public who would like to promote decency and want to see significant change in attitudes of people towards women.
The broadcasting authority in the country, ICASA, has in an about-turn, granted the pay-broadcaster TopTV permission to air three ‘adult’ channels that will now be included in their offering.
Just over one year ago, ICASA had rejected TopTV’s application to broadcast the ‘adult’ channels. In March 2012, ICASA stated that the “right of women to equality and human dignity overrides TopTV’s right to freedom of expression.”
Back then, ICASA had also avered that pornography was one of the contributing factors to the normalisation of violence against women in the country.
It is rather surprising that these arguments, which were also the basis of many faith-based organisations’ submissions in opposing TopTV’s application, seem no longer strong enough for ICASA to maintain their original stance.
Instead, ICASA has claimed that the conditions for the broadcast licensing of the said channels, such as a mandatory use of a double PIN access, and, that TopTV would only broadcast the channels during a “watershed period” of 8pm to 5am, were sufficient to “safeguard children’s rights”.
Furthermore, ICASA now declares that the submissions opposing the granting of the licence used moral arguments without establishing a scientific link between p0rn and gender-based violence, hence, lacking legal grounds to stop TopTV in their bid.
We believe that the public have been dealt a disservice by allowing TopTV to broadcast such content. ICASA’s downplaying of the ‘moral’ argument is a denial of a crucial aspect of social life where respect and human dignity have to be upheld.
Respect for women in particular is a shared value across many cultures of our nation. Anything that abridges it should naturally be seen in dim light. Whether it is done after the ‘watershed’ period or not, broadcasting of nudity is one such agent that gradually but steadily takes away such respect.
Anas ibn Malik Radhi-Allahu anhu reported that Rasulullah sallallahu alayhi wasallam said, “Whenever there is modesty in a thing, it adorns it. Whenever there is outrage in a thing, it debases it.” (Adabul Mufrad) The human body is sacred and one of its adornments is modesty. Nudity and its proliferation is a negation of modesty.
Under such permissiveness, the choice remains with us to keep away from such corruption of the social order, wherever it manifests itself, so as to maintain that which is pure and wholesome in preserving our faith whose one branch, as taught by Rasulullah sallallahu alayhi wasallam, is modesty.
It has been hinted that TopTV resorted to this bid in an attempt to shore up sagging ratings in viewership and stunted growth in subscription rates. We must not be among those that will keep this broadcaster afloat on the back of promoting vice and the bane called ‘adult channels.’