Union wants SABC TV licences scrapped

2012-11-08 13:47
Cape Town – The South African National Consumer Union (Sancu) is calling for the scrapping of TV licences, which all consumers with a device capable of receiving TV signals are obliged to pay annually.

This is the second time in the past three years Sancu is calling for the scrapping of the practice whereby TV owners are forced to pay an annual licence fee.

Besides Britain, where TV owners also have to pay an annual TV licence fee to fund the sterling BBC, South Africa is one of the only remaining countries in the world where a TV licence for watching television is mandated by the government through the Broadcasting Act.

Aggressive licence collection agencies

The reality is that very few South Africans with TV sets actually pay their annual TV licence. Meanwhile the SABC spends millions trying to recoup outstanding licence fees from TV owners, which eats into the income derived from TV licence fees.

The income from TV licences only amounts to 7% of the SABC's annual total revenue. In 2011/2012 the SABC received R1.01bn from TV licence fees – but that is a fraction of what the SABC would earn if all owners of a TV set actually paid an annual licence fee.

Only about one third of the TV sets in South Africa have a valid TV licence, while aggressive licence collection agencies who work on behalf of the SABC threaten to blacklist consumers who don't pay.

The SABC's licence collection practices are currently under investigation by the National Consumer Commission.

Sancu has now renewed its call for TV licences to be phased out and scrapped. Currently TV owners have to cough up R250 a year for a domestic TV licence per household, R70 for a concessionary domestic licence and R250 per set for a business licence.

Only the SABC receives money from the TV licence, irrespective whether TV set owners use their television to watch pay-TV such as MultiChoice's DStv, on On Digital Media's TopTV, e.tv, the proliferation of community TV stations within South Africa or just rent and watch DVDs.

According to the latest released Census 2011 results, 74.5% of households in South Africa indicated that they have at least one television in the home – more than households with fridges - about 10.7 million TV sets versus 9.9 million fridges. Yet only about 4.7 million actually pay a TV licence.

Read more on:    sabc  |  tv

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