“To succumb to Nigeria’s draconian demands is to be complicit in prejudice and bigotry……. dragging South Africa back into the darkest pit of Apartheid. “ Melanie Nathan,
In what appears to be a breach of South Africa’s all inclusive equality based Constitution, South African broadcaster, MultiChoice, a leading video entertainment and internet company, operating under various brands, including, DStv, M-Net, SuperSport, GOtv, DStv Digital Media, DStv Media Sales and MWEB, has not only succumbed to the demands of Nigeria to censor what South Africans can view, but also has shown its own colors as a bigoted money hungry enterprise intent on subjecting South Africans to an Apartheid-like censorship milieu.
Responding to concerns and questions from South Africa’s preeminent LGBT blog, Mambaonline, about its removal of the Caitlyn Jenner show, I Am Cait, from its schedule, the mega broadcaster revealed its callous greed and bigotry.
We cannot forget that one of the most onerous applications of persecution and inequity during the Apartheid era was the use of censorship at the time, which served to undermine an entire group of South Africans. Now under South Africa’s new post Apartheid Constitution, all South Africans, including LGBT South Africans, are protected from censorship and inequality. Yet MultiChoice has thumbed its nose at the freedom that the new Constitution insists upon. To succumb to Nigeria’s draconian demands is to be complicit in prejudice and bigotry. In Nigeria LGBTI people are criminalized and persecuted. By adhering to Nigerian sentiment on the issue of a show depicting transgender people, just because they are transgender, is to drag South Africa back into the darkest pit of Apartheid. The South African Constitution prohibits censorship and makes trans people absolutely equal in society and under the law.
Last week, Mamba Online reported that the South African-owned pay-TV company had blocked all its viewers across the continent, including in South Africa, from watching the I Am Cait show because Nigerian censors had objected to it.
Mamba Online now reports:
Unlike some of its other channels, which have different regional feeds, there is only one E! channel feed for the whole of Africa. Clearly fearing it could lose out on one of the continent’s biggest markets, MultiChoice acceded, apparently without any challenge or protest, to the demands of the Nigerians.
An LGBT staff member at the broadcaster, who asked not to be identified, told Mambaonline this week that she was “ashamed” to be working for the company.
Mambaonline sent a number of questions to MultiChoice asking for clarity on the issue, including:
- Has MultiChoice publicly condemned efforts to remove the show from its schedule as being discriminatory, a form of censorship and anti-democratic?
- As a South African-based company do you feel you have any obligation to uphold South Africa’s constitutional values?
- What is MultiChoice’s stance towards the issue of LGBT equality in Africa?
- Does the removal of the show mean that all Africans (including South Africans) are now subject to the whims of Nigerian viewers / censors?
- How will MultiChoice ensure that democratic countries like South Africa are not impacted by other nations’ bigotry and censorship in its scheduling / broadcasts?
MultiChoice responded on Tuesday with this terse and, quite frankly, pathetic response:
“E! Entertainment is a channel we share across many African territories, including Nigeria. The Nigerian Regulator has advised MultiChoice that the programme I Am Cait transgresses its regulatory code, which is why the series had to be removed from the channel. MultiChoice however still provides a large variety of entertaining and educational programming, and continuously strives to appeal to every lifestyle through its diversity of content.”
Mambaonline noted its disappointment with the vague response:
“The response is deeply unsatisfactory and displays a gross lack of regard for MultiChoice’s viewers in South Africa and elsewhere. In October last year, MultiChoice also dropped the acclaimed American reality series I Am Jazz, about a transgender teen, from its schedule after complaints from Nigerian viewers and threats of censorship. The company, with a widespread reputation for arrogance and high-handedness, is clearly not willing to address the deeper issues that are at play nor is it even prepared to apologise to its viewers. MultiChoice, it seems, simply doesn’t give a damn. The issue isn’t about your views on Caitlyn Jenner or the value of her show; it’s about our identities and stories being erased and censored by another country.”
This is an absolute travesty and an insult not only to South Africa’s LGBT community, but to the South African struggle and its resulting new democratic constitution – which MultiChoice now seems to breach with impunity. Failing a reversal by MultiChoice, South African interest groups ought to bring this giant before the Constitutional Court, to show that NO ONE is immune from a constitution that was designed to serve all South Africans.
South Africans have started a petition: have started If you don’t believe that what we are allowed to watch should be based on the whims of homophobic and transphobic censors in Nigeria, then sign this petition. (Big Hat Tip to Mamba Online for exposing this horrendous story.)
THE EXECUTIVES AT MULTICHOICE ARE:
Top Row- Left to right:
Mark Rayner, CEO
Nomsa Masbuko, Marketing GM
Jackie Rakitla, Corp Affairs GM
Werner Janse Van Rensburg, CFO
Aletta Alberts, Content GM
Second Row- Let to right:
Kwezi Mtengenya, Reg Affiars GM
Chimane Lelaka, Legal GM
Simon Camerer, Group GM
3rd Row Left to right
Bottom Row left to right:
Chris HitchingsGideon Khobane
By Melanie Nathan,
CAVEAT: I would like to add that I am a critic of the Caitlyn Jenner the “I am Cait” show. I do not dislike Cait for being trans – I dislike Cait for her bad representation of trans issues. I personally do not like the show because I do not like Caitlyn Jenner’s Republican politics, her bullying of fellow trans people about their views and her lack of solicitude by her support of anti LGBT Republican Party. She is over privileged and has not been subjected to the same economic impact of being trans that most suffer . She does not speak to or for much of the trans experience. As much as I despise her show and her behavior on it, I despise censorship more. So this post is not a show of support for I am Cait, but rather a post showing my disgust at censorship and bigotry.