South Africa's semiofficial broadcasting service tonight banned Stevie Wonder from its radio and television shows because he accepted his Best Song Oscar award in the name of the country's imprisoned black nationalist leader Nelson Mandela.
Wonder won his Oscar Monday night in the original-song category for "I Just Called to Say I Love You" from the film "The Woman in Red."
The South African Broadcasting Corp., which has a state monopoly of the airwaves, imposed a similar ban on the music of the Beatles in 1966 after John Lennon said the group was more popular than Christ. The Beatles ban lasted 10 years.
Several other entertainers, notably the exiled black South African singer Miriam Makeba, who was married to American activist Stokely Carmichael, have been banned from South African Broadcasting's airwaves because of their outspoken opposition to the white-ruled republic's apartheid system.
A spokesman for the broadcasting corporation, Hein Jordaan, said the Wonder case did not mean that any entertainer who expressed opposition to apartheid would be banned from the air in South Africa.
Wonder's case was special, Jordaan said, because in his remarks in Hollywood Monday night he expressed support for the leader of the outlawed African National Congress, which is trying to overthrow the apartheid system by guerrilla struggle.
"We feel very strongly about the ANC," Jordaan said. "We do not see why we should help promote the record sales of someone who has expressed his support for an organization that is trying to overthrow the government of this country."
Mandela, 66, has served 21 years of a life sentence for forming a guerrilla arm of the ANC after the South African government declared it an unlawful organization in 1960.
Until then the congress, formed in 1912, had campaigned peacefully against segregation.
There have been widespread appeals in South Africa and abroad for Mandela's unconditional release, but Pretoria has said it will free him only if he renounces the use of guerrilla violence, which Mandela refuses to do.
Attempts to reach a spokesman for Wonder were unsuccessful.