SABC still considering TV licences for smartphone, PC owners

The public broadcaster plans to increase revenue as regular TV licence returns plummet.

The SABC’s outrageous plan to smack South Africans who own smart devices and personal computers with additional TV licence fees is still on the table.

The idea was presented by the public broadcaster’s former disgraced acting CEO James Aguma, who wanted to amend the Broadcasting Act to allow the SABC to collect licence fees from owners of smartphones, tablet and personal computers.

Aguma told parliament earlier this year that his idea was motivated by projections of lower revenue from TV licence collections budgeted by the SABC this year. SABC spokesperson Kaizer Kganyago did not write off Aguma’s idea.

“It must be noted that this was a suggestion by the then acting group CEO, James Aguma.

“Should the SABC decide to pursue this, the proper process will be followed and an official public notice published in the Government Gazette, as payment of TV licence fees is a legislated obligation in the Broadcasting Act,” he said.

Kganyago also revealed that noncompliance by licence holders increased drastically during the 2016/17 financial year.

“Only about 45% of licence holders complied. The major step is for the SABC to restore its relationship with the licence holders. This will be done through various positive marketing and advertising campaigns, with the first phase launched in April 2017,” he said.

The SABC would revert to its old model of collecting TV licence fees using its own staff.

However, Kganyago said the public broadcaster would also still use the services of debt collection agencies, but on a limited scale, to collect licence fees on accounts that were in arrears.

About 13 million families currently own TV sets in South Africa. Aguma dropped a bombshell before MPs when he informed them the SABC had written off an astounding R17.7 billion in licence fees after it found that 400 000 accounts on its database were invalid and that more than a million other accounts worth R4 billion were problematic.

He said the scrapping of the fees came as a result of the SABC conducting a database cleanup in which dead people and foreigners living in other countries were found to have been issued with licences.

Following the cleanup, the amount owed on TV licences, including penalties, stood at just more than R6 billion.

By: Nkululeko Ncana/The Citizen


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