Not a few people were shocked when, after sustained pressure from Nigerians, Africa’s largest satellite television platform, Multichoice, released a statement announcing the removal of docu-series, I Am Cait from E! Entertainment channel on DStv and GOtv channels.
“I Am Cait” is a documentary series which chronicles the life of Caitlyn Jenner after her gender transition. The eight-part one-hour documentary series debuted on July 26, 2015, on the E! network. The series follows the retired Olympic champion formerly known as Bruce Jenner’s journey, exploring changes to her relationships with her family and friends.
Part of a statement released by Multichoice read, “MultiChoice recognizes the importance of respecting the views of its customers and all regulatory environments within which its service operates.” An official of the company, Olajide Obi said, “The company also reminds their subscribers that DStv and GOtv decoders are encrypted with the parental control feature that empowers parents with ultimate control over what young viewers can watch. The company also encourages parents to make use of this feature as much as possible to ensure that their children only watch what their parents deem appropriate.”
This is not the first time, however, that the company will be forced to discontinue showing one of its shows across the African continent based on complaints by Nigerians as sometime in October last year, DStv removed “I am Jazz” a reality show that chronicles the life of a transgender teen, Jazz Jennings. Previously also, the Shower Hour segment of reality TV show, Big Brother Africa was also stopped from airing following uproar. Homosexuality was criminalized in Nigeria in 2014 and many parents in Nigeria complained to DStv about “I Am Cait” saying they did not want their children to watch the show.
This development is almost certain to set a bad precedent in television viewing in Africa as a single country has successfully determined whether or not a show will be aired across the continent – in this case, “I Am Cait.” It is simply not right. Imagine being a cable television owner in Mozambique and having what you watch or do not watch determined by conservative parents about 4,263 km away. Why then does DStv still have the Parental Control option on its decoders if these one-sided complaints can be made, eventually leading to shows being deleted from programme lineups? The National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) is only responsible for regulating what Nigerians are fed via the media. Not Africa. Does this mean that a group of people a group of people can just wake up one morning and because they find a particular show on TV against their cultural, political, social or religious beliefs, they can complain and have it pulled off air regardless of other people’s preferences, wants and needs or whether or not they are in another country or region.
DStv’s recent decision to censor certain words including God, fuck, shit was a tad ridiculous. Every film or show that runs on the channels all have ratings and warnings. They all come with indications of the presence of sex, strong language or violence. So, why ban “shit” just because some people with very strong opinions complain there is too much swear words on television. Why can’t they just CHOOSE what they watch, rather than try to CHANGE what is being shown?
What DStv has done does not send the right messages across, even though they think they are.