ON DIGITAL Media, the company behind pay-TV platform TopTV, on Thursday said it was in talks with a potential equity investor and an announcement was imminent.

"We are in serious discussions with an equity investor and an announcement would be made soon," CEO Eddie Mbalo said.

"I can’t reveal those details yet, but the discussions are at advanced stage," he said.

Mr Mbalo would not be drawn on whether the targeted equity investor was local or international.

The company went into business rescue under the Companies Act last year, saying it urgently needed cash. This, it said, was to provide a protective bubble and to buy time to complete the search for a strategic equity partner.

The broadcaster on Thursday sought permission from the Independent Communication Authority of South Africa (Icasa) to broadcast adult content.

At Thursday’s public hearings, TopTV told Icasa that 250 jobs were at risk if permission to broadcast adult content was not granted. Adult content was one of the two key drivers to increase subscriptions in the pay-TV business around the world. Sport was the other.

TopTV had planned to launch a bouquet of three subscription-based channels that would offer viewers in South Africa a choice to view adult entertainment, provided by Top 20 global brand Playboy Entertainment.

Playboy TV is already available in 62 countries around the world.

This is the company’s second attempt to secure Icasa’s authorisation for such channels.

The TV station faced fierce opposition from various groups despite its decision to narrow its application to broadcasting the channels only during the "watershed period" between 8pm and 5am.

In addition, TopTV said the channels would not be available to prepaid customers, but only to contract subscribers.

Lawyer Michael Motsoeneng, representing the Film and Publication Board (FPB), said the board did not oppose the application, but wanted the station to comply with the law. "The FPB recognises that pornography is not illegal in terms of South African law.

"However, freedom of expression is not an absolute right. The board’s objectives are, among other things, to protect children from exposure to disturbing and harmful materials, and premature exposure to adult experiences."