Broke SABC Wants Hike In TV Licence Fee

Cash-strapped SABC has put plans in motion to hike up the price of the annual TV Licence, as well as implementing stricter penalties for noncompliance.
Jason Snyman
2018-09-12

Cash-strapped SABC has conjured up another scheme to get its hands on your money. In an effort to improve revenue, the public broadcaster has announced intentions to raise the price of your TV licence. This is according to SABC chairperson, Bongumusa Makhathini, who said: 

TV licence fees still remain the second largest source of revenue for the SABC, but we need to rebase the fee and strengthen the collection of this revenue.

Let’s take a look at how this is shaping up.
 

The SABC Solution

The state-owned broadcaster has frequently called for an increase on the price of TV licences. Since 2013, the TV licence fee has been priced at R265 a year – which equates to around 72c a day.
 

In September 2018, I think we can all agree that there is very little, if anything, you can buy for 72c a day,” said Makhathini.

Some South African viewers may even suggest that we’re paying 72c too much. This is evidenced in the incredibly low percentage of television owners that actually pay their TV licences – and mostly because they’re just not happy with the content or the way the SABC spends its money.
 

While we are still dealing with the financial consequences of well-documented governance failures, the SABC believes these issues are being dealt with so we can put that chapter firmly behind us.  The SABC is fully aware that to deliver on this public service mandate requires long term financial sustainability. 

While we are still dealing with the financial consequences of well-documented governance failures, the SABC believes these issues are being dealt with so we can put that chapter firmly behind us. The SABC is fully aware that to deliver on this public service mandate requires long term financial sustainability.

According to Makhathini, out of 9 million accounts on the SABC database only around 1.8 million households and businesses are paying for their licences.  

While 1.8 million paying accounts is a relatively small percentage, we believe that a credible, trusted, and properly-run public broadcaster can create a culture of increased TV licence payment.

The only way for the broadcaster to ensure that people pay their licences is by implementing stricter enforcement and penalties for non-payment, and pushing retailers to perform TV licence checks at the point of sale.
 

How Much Does The SABC Want?

Paying your TV licence for the use of SABC’s services is arguably fair enough. In order to really force the point home, the SABC has also calculated how much we would be paying if the price of the TV licence had increased with inflation since 2002.
 

The SABC’s television licence fee of R265 has remained unchanged since 2013. The licence fee grew marginally by 27% from 2002 to date – a very small effective increase over a 16-year period.

According to the calculations, we should currently be paying R517.75 a year for our licence. These calculations were then presented as part of the SABCs submission on the review of the public broadcasting policy, finalised on 31 August.
 

It is recommended that the legislation, policy, and regulations in respect of television licence fees should be amended to cater for annual tariff increase in line with CPI, subject to ministerial approval.

The CPI referred to is the Consumer Price Index, which tracks the increase or decrease in the price of goods or services that we pay for.