Union wants SABC TV licences scrapped

2012-11-08 13:47
Thinus Ferreira
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.


  • Sheilan.Clarke - 2012-11-08 14:01

    I get sms's about outstanding fees. I don't even have a damn account! Also, who the hell watches SABC? Even people in shacks have DSTV or TopTV.

      Karel du Toit - 2012-11-08 14:29

      hahaha good one!

      thulani.sparks - 2012-11-08 14:34

      Shacks in which area???

      Sheilan.Clarke - 2012-11-08 14:40

      @ thulani.sparks I live in Cape Town, many shacks have dishes. (and some BMWs etc)

      gerald.parker.3956 - 2012-11-08 15:40

      Thulani even the the foothills of the Drakensburg they watch DSTV or Top TV. I know because I have watched there as well

      miranda.manuel3 - 2012-11-08 16:11

      I fully support the call for the scrapping of TV licence. Over the past thirteen years I have been trying to convince the SABC that I do no own a television set, yet they keep on harassing me for an amount of R23 000. Their finances must be in such a disarray that they resort to Mafia tactics such as harassment, extortion and threats to collect monies. What is bothersome to me is the fact that no where does their attorneys have any proof that I have sent in affidavits stating that I do not own a TV set, yet I have the proof here at home. If I want to watch TV, I stream via my PC.

  • faizieishlah.shabalala - 2012-11-08 14:09

    The license fee should be included in the rates for all buildings, residential or commercial

  • klasie.kitshoff - 2012-11-08 14:10

    How can you pay to watch the same programs over and over! Dump the whole SABC

  • alison.scheppel - 2012-11-08 14:15

    Good idea. Why must SABC get all the monies? Just because you have a TV doesn't mean you have SABC. Perhaps in the old days where you could get TV reception via an aerial, but today you have to buy a decoder before you can watch anything, so scrap the license fee.

  • caroline.rainbird - 2012-11-08 14:17

    I'm one of those that have a valid license. I hope the Union gets it right and manages to scrap the licenses on behalf of the honest TV owners, so that we no longer have to carry the burden for the dishonest ones who get away with not paying year after year despite the collectors. Even when you pay, you still get hounded. I NEVER watch SABC so what do I pay for in the first place.

      steve.gibson.146612 - 2012-11-08 15:02

      I agree with you caroline this is just another area where the honest subsidise the dishonest. Iam getting sick and tired of this. E Tolls just another potential area where we will shortly have to subsidise corrupt officials who received kick backs for the deal.

      Jacci Freimond Rudling - 2014-09-09 12:19

      Looking at it from the other point of view, it is people like you who enable the government to keep ripping us all off. Would you go to PnP and pay just for being there if you weren't buying anything? Do you pay for food you haven't ordered at a restaurant? Why the hell pay for drivel that you don't watch? Either demand value for money, or get a backbone and don't pay for rubbish. Honest or not, stand up for change and stop whinging.

  • ron.bilyard - 2012-11-08 14:26

    Does anyone watch the cANCer station anyway? I haven't watched it for donkeys years. Absolute garbage.

  • jaysonpaul.beckwith - 2012-11-08 14:28

    I cancelled my tv licence 15 yrs ago. I got a call the other day, from a arrogant little punk threatning me that I owe them R4000. I've had dstv since it came out. And I don't think I have ever watched a promgrame on sabc since.. I say good ridance.

  • irene.buthelezi.1 - 2012-11-08 14:30

    Good idea. Who watches ANC TV anyway?!

      khethu.ndlovu.3 - 2012-11-08 14:40

      Uyabheda ke manje

  • kerrimg - 2012-11-08 14:35

    they must scrap it........

      jacques.stander - 2012-11-08 16:38

      I'll second the motion !

  • andre.potgieter.5 - 2012-11-08 14:38

    If you own a Car, you pay a license, wether the car is running or not! If you own a TV set, you must pay a license, wether you watch or not. It has nothing to do with what you watch, it is the TV set. Same with a fire arm license. It is the right thing to do. BUT, it will be nice if it can be scrapped. We are taxed to death already as it is.

      gerald.parker.3956 - 2012-11-08 15:43

      Andre if your car is not running you can "take it off the road" and then you do not pay a licence fee. Only when you put it back on the road do you pay licence.

      robert.cerff - 2012-11-09 07:43

      Um... Gerald... not entirely correct. If you take it off of the road you don't have to pay... but must de-register it. Alternatively... if you wish to put it back on the road you'll have to back pay license fees.

      joe.duanne - 2012-11-09 13:46

      Err, Robert: So you pay your dues, get married, change you surname etc. All the things you must. Since hubby has a license you cancel yours. 15 yrs later you suddenly getting summons in your maiden surname and an attitude from hell and the only goal by the incumbent SABC rep being pay or provide them evidence - 15 yrs after they accepted it! I personally challenged them to either sue so we could have our day in court, or leave us alone. The harassment continues.

  • rofhiwa.ronald.1 - 2012-11-08 14:40

    Paying tv licence to watch sabc hahahaha!!! Thats rediculous

  • nicolaasvanoudtshoorn - 2012-11-08 14:40

    The "licence collection practices" are terrible. My bill kept going to the wrong address and I had to pay a huge fine for not paying my account. Afterwards I requested to have my license merge with that of my wife. A year later I'm still receiving a bill for my license and they have never heard of my request. I've now sent it through 2 more times and every time I phone they have no idea who I am. And again I'm being threatened with fines/legal action. So, if this is the practices, why would people sign up for the hassle? Especially if we see what the SABC produce with our money, bad programming and mismanagement of funds (parties and bonuses). I pay almost R700 per month willingly for DSTV, but I hate having to pay my TV license.

  • teboho.martin.3 - 2012-11-08 14:44

    Yeah I don't think paying for TV licence is a good idea because is not benefitting those who pays for it,SABC signal is bad and when u pays for it you don't get TV talk magazine so its doesn't benefit the customer but SABC. SABC programs are boring they like too much cormecial breaks,and I don't think its fear for guy who pays for Digital media(Dstv,Top tv) to pay TV licence.

  • antoinette.martens - 2012-11-08 14:47

    I used to own a Television set about 7 years ago and had a valid licence as well. Now I do not own a set and have been hounded by collectors to pay outstanding fees for years. I sent letters and affidavits to get the TV licence cancelled, but without success. I eventually paid in excess of R2000 to just shut them up, but just received another demand for payment of outstanding licence fees. How on Earth do you cancel these things!!!!?? There are lots of people that get hounded to pay their deceased family members' outstanding licences as well. Explaining the person is dead and can no longer pay for a TV licence also does not help. Once you have a TV licence on your name you have it for eternity!!!

      Ze Don - 2012-11-08 15:12

      I've got EXACTLY the same problem. I've now reached the stage that I tell them to go ahead and blacklist me!

      stephen.j.dickson.3 - 2012-11-08 16:07

      This is the same sort of thing that will happen if we register for e-Toll, so the choice for the people of Gauteng is simple : Don't register or pay unless you want to be their cash cow for the rest of your lives.

  • bronwynmatthewsnewman - 2012-11-08 14:57

    I always pay mine - cos it is the right thing to do. WILL I GET PASSED REFUNDS seeing know else is paying there :) lol!! #wishfullthinking

  • luke.paola - 2012-11-08 14:58

    Finally something useful from a Union, it is total mockery that we need to pay for something that 60% of the country doesn't use! With DSTV and other pay for channels now the SABC must do away with this licence.

  • Tawizee - 2012-11-08 15:02

    They must collect my payment from DSTV.

  • luke.paola - 2012-11-08 15:02

    Another issue I have is that my Grandfather passed away almost 10 years ago and we have sent death certificates almost every year since then to these fools and yet every year we get a snotty call or letter demanding that he pays his TV licence because there is so much money outstanding on his account.

      gerald.parker.3956 - 2012-11-08 15:46

      Luke tell those idiots to sue. Give your grandfather garve as his residential address, also tell them there is no postal delivery there and they must deliver in person after 6pm

      mrp721 - 2012-11-08 16:28

      My mom passed in 2010, i sent them a letter stating that my mom was deceased and that should i get one letter from them demanding payment their day would become night very quickly, sent them the death certificate as well, within about 3 months it was cancelled & they sent me a letter confirming the cancellation and i have never heard from them since... Maybe they took my threat serious LOL...

  • imoukangwe - 2012-11-08 15:09

    I don't watch SABC , if I do I watch it in my DSTV which I pay , so what about ETV ? ..... It doesn't make sense to me as why I must pay SABC license

  • issy.monar - 2012-11-08 15:09

    SABC is run by the ANC,i watch and pay DSTV R640 every month bcoz i am satisfied with their services.Who said everyone who buys a TV want to watch SABC?What's there to watch on SABC anyway ?Introduce the decorder system and see how many people will watch SABC.

  • imoukangwe - 2012-11-08 15:09

    I don't watch SABC , if I do I watch it in my DSTV which I pay , so what about ETV ? ..... It doesn't make sense to me as why I must pay SAB\r\nC license

  • heathway.master - 2012-11-08 15:13

    Yet another Government Tax which should be ended. We pay exorbitant taxes already. The SABC board are nothing but sponges, giving themselves enormous salaries, whilst the SABC is yet another failing State Autocracy.

  • stefan.coetzee.750 - 2012-11-08 15:38

    The only reason for a TV licence is because all TV’s have built in Speakers and TV Tuners. By law anything with a TV tuner requires a Licence. That’s the reason why you can by a pc monitor without a licence. (No built in TV tuner) If you use a normal computer monitor to watch TV they can’t force you to pay a licence. I have a 42 inch plasma monitor not a TV and my DSTV and Plasma monitor is connected to an amplifier with speakers so I have sound. I will not pay a licence ever I refuse to pay for SABC crap I don’t watch.

  • sergio.batista.79 - 2012-11-08 16:07

    I agree scrap TV Licences,,, they are a bunch of thieves

  • j.c.s.mailbox - 2012-11-08 16:33

    At last somebody are trying to do what has to be done long ago....

  • Pete7930 - 2012-11-08 16:46

    dont get me wrong, i dont want to pay either but if thats the reason why they want it scrapped ( because only a minority pay ) than why should we pay for water and electricity as i believe its probably the same minority who pay for those services too!

      Jacci Freimond Rudling - 2014-09-09 12:23

      Ill pay for water and electricity, cause I use them, I don't use the sabc so why should I pay for it?

  • Pete7930 - 2012-11-08 16:49

    Besides the fact that SABC shows nothing of interest and in my opinion not worth 5c.

  • imoukangwe - 2012-11-08 19:32

    Pay SABC TV license even if you don't watch SABC channels , pay etolls , pay for car license disc , pay VAT for every item you buy , pay for water pay for everything , on top of SARS ! people give us a break what does SARS do with money ? Why not caver roads and government channels with it ?! Tjo bathong

  • maria.ferreira1234 - 2012-11-09 07:56

    SABC is more of a educational, and entertainment channel seen by many who cannot afford DSTV. It is very limited, with most movies and shows being old or repeated. It should be free.......

      jo.vankatwijk - 2012-11-09 10:18

      I agree, Maria. All the big-mouths who can brag that they have DStv should think of pensioners who cannot afford this. We have no choice but to watch SABC. There are very few, reasonably good, programmes and many of them are shown after 10 pm.

  • priscilla.mabaso.3 - 2012-11-09 08:04

    Scrap it please.

  • abrie.burger - 2012-11-09 10:29

    @thulani See... Vote DA. You will still live in a shack but you will have DSTV and drive a BMW!!!!!

  • FeelGud - 2012-11-09 11:56

    I agree with SANCU 100%. what about you

  • sibongile.makopi - 2012-11-09 16:19

    From time to time I do consume one thing or the other. I did not know that there is a group of people whose mutual interest is consuming, I would like to take up membership, where are they found?

  • gmmotong - 2012-11-12 10:56

    That is good because SABC seems not to be functioning and servicing all South Africa citizens and yet they want us to pay, most of things appearing on tv are Western things and American, it is very rare to see African things much on our screens, so as sports, how on earth can a game play and after the same day it played be shown highlights of that game, this is what we do not want as we are the one paying so it must be scrapped that licence as we can not pay for nothing.

  • richard.pickett.10 - 2012-11-12 14:15

    I only watch TV from 5 to 7pm and I only speak English, so why would I pay to watch the other 9 languages. Stick the licenses where the sun don't shine. 51 million people and only 4 million pay licenses. Wake up SABC scrap the crap.

  • marlene.olivier1 - 2012-11-14 09:58

    I have a tv licence, my husband is being sued for a licence.... why do we need 2 licences for 1 household? Now they are phoning me all the time, sending letters of demand. I have a TopTv dish and I pays for my SABC licence.... what more do they want??

  • naas.viljoen.16 - 2012-11-14 12:10

    I agree. I'm not prepared to pay for ANC propaganda.

  • newbytanya - 2012-12-11 10:05

    I completely agree they should be scrapped completely, because the sabc tv license department are like most things most corrupt. You cancell your tv license before its 1st renewal is due, follow all procedures regarding its sale and tranfer owners tv license details, also include an affidavit signed and stamped by the police commissioner of oathes and send it through, and still fighting almost after 5 years to still have beign billed continually for something which was cancelled AS PER THEIR REGULATIONS and GOVERNMENT REGULATIONS they still refuse to clear and cancell. Its time someone took them on legally, because they are ILLEGALLY continuing to charge for something caancelled AS PER THEIR REGULATIONS FOLLOWED COMPLETELY...

  • ronelle.naidoo1 - 2013-01-16 13:12

    Tv licence is pure crap! we have to BUY a tv, we still must pay for electricity to watch that tv and to top it off we must pay for a tv licence to watch crap! absolute crap!

  • Kwajo Musa - 2013-07-11 11:58

    TV tax is another form of continue oppresion in this day and age, the TV licence is wrong and out of date. It should be abolished. It should be a subscription based and we should all have the choice, to watch the SABC if we so wish. The SABC is a biased government propaganda network. The wages of many SABC directors/staff, is way to high and the public are paying for that through, the forced TV licence. It's wrong! Many people hate MULTICHOICE- DSTV but at least DSTV doesn’t go round forcing people to watch their channels. If you want to watch, you have to pay a subscription but your not forced to,like the SABC do. There are some people that think the SABC is great and the TV licence is value for money. The SABC show adverts they should be funded from that, improve content to increase viewership and advertizers using their platform. This TV tax is another continued form of oppression in this day and age. This new communication minister must look in to this. TV tax today is overrated. Does the SABC still need to relay on TV tax still today? They are funded directly by government through public funding, funded through commercials, still demand hi TV tax, products produced using public funds through DTI Funding. Nearly all if not most of SABC programmes are funded through DTI. They must sell those product they are producing.

  • Jerusha James Pillay - 2014-04-04 03:36

    I totally agree it should be scrapped. They have a very poor system in place for dealing with problems. I have been trying to solve my problem for the past ten years now and still no joy. The cost of living is very high and pensioners and people collecting grants are expected to pay. Even if it is once a year its money that can be used more efficiently.

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