SABC plans to increase TV licence fees

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As the state broadcaster, the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC), continues to face financial difficulties, it is now looking at increasing its TV licence fees.

In a parliamentary presentation on August 28, the SABC said it has drafted and sent a proposal to increase TV licences fees to the communications minister, Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams.

However, despite the SABC looking at ways to enhance its revenue, SABC board chairperson, Bonamisa Makhatini, has made it clear the proposed increase may not be enough to cover the broadcaster’s expenditure.

Makhatini explains there have been eight increases over the past 24 years. If the fee is to be increased, Makhatini says it had to be considered affordable. Furthermore, he says content has to be attractive and compelling.

At present, one of the key problems with raising TV licences is the issue of compliance. Currently, the SABC reported a compliance level of just 27.8% in October 2018.

Citing the latest data from Stats SA, Makhatini claims there are 9.6 million TV licence accounts in South Africa. Out of this figure, only 2.2 million are paying and 455,000 on instalment.

Currently, the annual TV licence fee is R265 a year and according to law, South Africans are required to pay for a TV licence if they wish to use any devices which can function as a television.

SABC group CFO Yolande van Biljon adds the SABC is technically insolvent, as it struggles to honour payments to service providers and contractual obligations.

She says the group’s financial position has deteriorated. In fact, it ended the previous financial year with a cash balance of only R72 million.

Van Biljon says there are instances where the SABC cannot honour its payments, nor adhere to committed contracts. According to van Biljon, cash reserves are depleted, and payables amount to R1.8 billion as of June 2019.

Sentech allegedly makes up R554 million of this staggering figure, while Supersport, Samro and other content providers amount to R174 million.

As the SABS looks at increasing its fees, what are your thought on the matter? Share your opinions with us in the comment section below.

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