The South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) wants to ‘redefine’ TV licences in South Africa and has recommended the introduction of a household levy to help stabilise its finances.
This levy would be imposed on all households and is based on the possibility of access to SABC services, rather than the actual usage of its services, News24 reports.
In public hearings held on Monday (20 September), the national broadcaster said that dominant subscription broadcaster – such as MultiChoice’s DStv – should be required to collect the public broadcasting household levy from its subscribers on the state-owned broadcaster’s behalf.
“Unfortunately, the SABC Bill retains the outdated TV licence system and does not take into account the SABC’s view that it should be replaced by a technology-neutral, public broadcasting household levy that would exempt the indigent and should be part-collected by the dominant pay TV operator,” it said.
“The SABC reiterates its submission on that – as a pro-competitive measure and regulatory obligation – the dominant subscription broadcaster should be required to collect the public broadcasting household levy from its subscribers.”
The SABC has previously mooted an annual household levy of R265 on the eight million households currently in its TV licence billing system.
It has also considered making TV licences a requirement for smartphones, tablets and other devices under a revised definition of ‘televisions’.
While the bill favours the TV licence over the household levy, it does not prescribe how the broadcaster will collect the TV licence.
Instead, it states that the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa will be responsible for making TV licences regulations in consultation with the SABC and the communications minister.
The SABC expects to face continued issues around TV licence collections for the near future, as South Africans refuse to pay their fees.
In an August presentation, the national broadcaster said that the TV Licence cash revenue collected during Q4 20/21 was R200.7 million against a budget of R293.7 million – resulting in a R92.9 million (32%) shortfall against budget.
The SABC’s Q4 results cover the period between 1 January and 31 March 2021.
“In comparison to Q3 (R278.3 million), there was a decrease of R77.6 million (27.9%) in Q4,” it said. “There was, however, a year-on-year increase of R40.8 million (25.5%) in TV Licence revenue, a commendable improvement considering the economic constraints.”
The financial data shows that the SABC failed to meet almost all of its licence targets across the board:
- Renewals’ revenue stream for the quarter was below budget by R65.8 million (YTD: R14 million);
- New licences were below budget by R13.7 million (YTD: R1.3 million);
- Debt collection was R13.4 million below the budget (YTD: above budget by R4.2 million).