The Film and Publication Board (FPB) welcomes the decision taken by Multichoice against the possible launch of a pornography channel. The decision follows a number of interventions made by the Film and Publication Board and a number of stakeholders (including state institutions and civil society groups) who have the best interests of children at heart. This is indeed victory for the gender and children’s rights movement; and members of the public at large.

The Film and Publication Amendment Act, 2009 prohibits the distribution / broadcasting of hardcore pornography (films classified X18) on public platforms; and makes it very clear that such films should only be distributed via licensed Adult Shops. It is against this legislation that the FPB has in the past few weeks vehemently opposed Multichoice.

‘We are elated that the increased possibility of prematurely exposing children to adult content has been eliminated’, said Ms Yoliswa Makhasi, Chief Executive Officer of the FPB. ‘The launch of this channel would have created a scenario where children could have easily accessed undesirable content. It is our view that such content should only be accessible to adults via specific channels, as regulated by the FP Act’, she continued.

In a recent research study conducted by the FPB (2008/09) exploring the public attitude towards sexually explicit material and the regulation thereof in South Africa, it was found that 83% of the participating respondents agreed that children are exposed to too much sex and violence in the media. In its statement, Multichoice also communicated that their research showed that ‘a significant percentage of subscribers are opposed to adult channels. The correlation in these results has certainly given the FPB an affirmation that its regulatory duties in protecting children are priority to many South Africans.

The above mentioned FPB study also illustrated that there is little doubt that exposure to sexually explicit material affects a human being in some way or another. The exposure of children to pornographic material may be considered as a form of child sexual abuse and might result in unusual sexual behaviour amongst children. Pornographic material stimulates curiosity amongst children and can encourage unsafe sex practices which consequently cause an increase in teenage pregnancy and HIV/AIDS. The following comment was made by a participating respondent in the FPB research study; “My friend’s son once forced a girl to do what was done in a porn video, the girl complained” (Respondent in FPB Research , Female, JHB). The growing incidence of addiction to pornography highlights the damaging effect. Like drug and alcohol abuse, addiction to pornography is an existing problem in society. Research findings have shown that individuals can become addicted to pornography after very little exposure to it. There can be a ‘ripple effect’ of negative consequences especially if the addiction becomes focused on children and takes on the form of child pornography.

Members of the public are reminded that they have an obligation to observe and adhere to the classification decisions provided by the FPB in the form of age restrictions and consumer advice. We also urge them to report any knowledge of child pornography to the police or contact FPB on 0800 148 148 or clientsupport@fpb.org.za.

For any media enquiries contact: Ms Sibo Myeni; Cell: 082 307 4708 ; E-mail: smyeni@fpb.gov.za

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