SABC looking at new ways to get South Africans to pay their TV licence

SABC board chairperson, Bongumusa Makhathini, has indicated that the state broadcaster is making progress in the collection of TV licence fees.

In the latest financial year, the group billed R3.378 billion in TV Licences, but only pulled in revenues to the tune of R941 million – a 27.8% compliance level.

Speaking to SABC News on Monday (15 October), Makhathini said that the broadcaster has put together a comprehensive approach to improve the collection of fees.

One mechanism is the expansion of a ‘definition of device’ that a TV set owner has to pay for.

“When we came to Parliament the last time, we presented a comprehensive strategy on how we are going to improve on TV licence collection,” he said.

“We have also touched on how we are going to leverage technology and innovations to drive that. We are talking about GIS (Geographic Information System) enabled licences.

“There are a number of things that will drive the collections. In fact, it has improved a little but the reality is we also need to be honest.

“The last time it was increased, it was 2013 – if I am not mistaken. Currently you are paying 72 cents a day to play 18 radio stations, five TV Channels. The reality is times have moved. We also need to be honest about what it costs us to deliver on the public mandate as the SABC.”

The SABC previously indicated to BusinessTech that the broadened definition of devices would include all devices and apparatus that are capable of receiving television broadcasts over the broadcasting radio frequency spectrum.

However, it will not be so broad as to include all mobile phones and computing devices.

Signal distribution access 

The public broadcaster also recently asked Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Communications to look into reviewing the TV licence fee regulations.

The SABC said that it wants the licence fee to be seen as payment for ‘signal distribution access’. It noted that if it cannot pay Sentech for signal distribution, this will not only affect its television channels but all radio stations will be forced to go off-air.

“We need South Africans to be also responsible,” said communications minister Nomvula Mokonyane.

“People must pay for their licences and people must also make sure that they themselves make a contribution because the culture of non-payment also does contribute to the challenges. Just pay as you pay for DStv, just pay as you pay for your airtime then you will find the SABC of being of value to you.”

Read: This is how much the SABC suffers when you don’t pay your TV Licence

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SABC looking at new ways to get South Africans to pay their TV licence