Call for stricter penalties for non-payment of TV licences

Thursday, September 6, 2018

The South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) has called for stricter enforcement and penalties for the non-payment of TV licences.

“There are currently 1.8 million TV licence-paying households and businesses out of a total of nine million accounts on the SABC database,” SABC Chairperson Bongumusa Makhathini said on Thursday.

Addressing the SABC Policy Review Colloquium on Thursday, Makhathini said the SABC strongly believes that an overhaul of the TV fee system can go a long way in funding the public broadcasting mandate.

“We believe that a credible, trusted, properly run public broadcaster can create a culture of increased TV license payment.

“The TV licence fee is not the same as the subscription fee charged by pay TV broadcasters. It  is also not linked to how much you consume or watch SABC content, rather the TV license fee is an established, internationally accepted, statutory funding mechanism for public broadcasting,” he said.

Makhathini said the SABC has 18 radio stations featuring all official languages, three TV channels as well as two channels on DSTV.

“The SABC believes much more can be done to improve revenue from this source [TV licenses],” he said.

Government through the Department of Communications led by Minister Nomvula Mokonyane and the Deputy Minister Pinky Kekana are currently hosting the SABC Policy Review Colloquium in Midrand under the theme: “Building a resilient public broadcaster”.

Challenges facing the SABC

Mokonyane said the SABC is not in a healthy financial position owing to assortment of challenges that besieged it in the last few years. 

“Admittedly, some of the challenges are man-made and therefore, could have been avoided. However, the majority of the challenges besieging the public broadcaster are historical and structural. Instead of dealing with them, they have been continuously deferred,” she said.

The Minister said the pressures that were exerted by the SABC’s inability to broadcast Premier Soccer League (PSL) matches in August points out that even in a multichannel environment, not only in developing countries, the role of the public broadcaster cannot be underestimated. 

“The SABC is the pulse of our nation – the window through which our culture and heritage are seen, particularly as we begin our heritage month-September,” she said.

Changes at SABC

Deputy Minister Kekana said there has been some changes in the broadcasting sector in the past few years.

“These rapid changes in the media and broadcasting sector are primarily driven by a digital shift and to some extent the growing number of connected citizens, the development of mobile telephony, and high mobile broadband adoption.

“The growth of the digitization of our media landscape also has a structural effect and certainly requires of broadcasters to redefine their business models and for government to recalibrate legislative framework,” she said.

The Deputy Minister said in the new media world, successful broadcasters will need to deliver a distinctive, personalised experience at scale – as well as continue to make and distribute the very best and most creative programmes.

The colloquium brought together various international and national policy experts as well as role players on public broadcasting to shed light on cutting-edge challenges such as the demands of the 4th Industrial Revolution, collaborative opportunities and strategies to reshape the SABC of the future. –