Business Insider Edition

The SABC officially wants to increase TV licence fees - here’s what happens next

James de Villiers , Business Insider SA
 Sep 03, 2019, 01:30 PM
  • The SABC plans to increase TV licence fees in SA, but is unable to say by how much. 
  • It said the broadcasting act will have to be amended to increase TV licence fees. 
  • Only 2.2 million of the SABC’s 9.6 million TV licence holders pay their fees. 
  • For more stories go to the Business Insider SA homepage.

Last week, South Africa’s state-broadcaster SABC said it plans to increase TV licence fees in a bid to contain ballooning losses.

Spokesperson Vuyo Mthembu told Business Insider South Africa that the broadcaster is unable to disclose how much the increase might be, as it is still busy with stakeholder engagements. 

All South African television owners are required by law to pay their TV licences. The current cost is R265 a year or 70c a day.   

Mthembu said to amend the TV licence fee, the broadcasting act will have to be amended by the national assembly. 

Also read: Here’s why there are suddenly yellow MTN satellite dishes along Cape highways

Of the 9.6 million TV licence holders in South Africa, only 2.2 million accounts are fully paid - a compliance rate of just 22.9%. 

Mthembu added that a whopping 72% of new TV licence holders do not pay their licences in the second year after acquiring a television set. 

“The compliance to TV licence legislation in South Africa is low although higher compared to other Public Broadcasters in Africa,” he said. 

The department of communications did not respond to a request for comment. 

SABC made loss of over R2 billion in three years 

The SABC uses licence fees to procure local and international content, and cover operational costs. 

TimesLive reported that, despite a R280 million state subsidy a year, the SABC made a loss of R1 billion in 2016/17, R622 million in 2017/18 and R482 million in 2018/19. 

The SABC board said it is unable to pay service providers, adhere to committed contracts and commission local content productions due to dwindling cash reserves. 

It said it urgently requires a R3.2 billion bailout from the national treasury, partly to cover its R1.8 billion debt, to keep doors open. 

Treasury, however, said it will only give the bailout - already budgeted for - if the broadcaster achieves certain conditions such as submitting a list of initiatives to increase revenue, cost-cutting initiatives, and identifying non-core assets for sale.

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