As a result of the drowning SABC, Netflix users were left horrified in October 2020 when the State-owned broadcasting company proposed a bizarre proposal. A proposal which would see streaming services such as Netflix and paid private services such as DStv having to bill their clients for the SOE’s non-related services, being, of course, the SABC Tv Licenses.
This followed a presentation to Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Communications by the Deputy Communications Minister, Pinky Kekana, when the public broadcaster stressed the current and somewhat “outdated” definition of a TV licence needs to be updated, apparently in order to suit current technologies.
Despite many outraged South Africans voicing their valid opinions, the SABC is not letting go of the idea. In fact, the public broadcaster is hellbent on bringing the concept to fruition.
The South African Broadcasting Corporation recently welcomed the publication of Government’s draft White Paper on Audio and Audiovisual Content Services, alongside its comprehensive review of broadcasting policy and legislation.
The SABC will now be making a detailed submission on the paper to the Department of Communications and Digital Technologies (DCDT), including comments on:
- The new licensing framework for audio and audiovisual content services.
- The funding model for the SABC and mechanisms for funding the public broadcaster’s unfunded public mandate.
- The proposed inquiry on the current share of advertising revenue for Pay-TV operators and whether it is appropriate for the viability of free-to-air services.
- The consolidation of government and institutional funding mechanisms for film and television productions.
In a statement and as if surprised, the broadcaster notes, “The publication of the draft white paper has sparked an intense public debate about the SABC’s current TV licence fee, how it should be defined and collected and whether it should be levied at all.”
It further stresses the importance of this debate for the future funding of public broadcasting which cannot be overstated. It elaborates this is as a sustainable, independent and credible public broadcaster which is integral to the health of the country’s constitutional democracy.
A bold statement considering the broadcast company has had to receive multiple bailouts due to an array of reasons. Therefore, how can the justification of a such a monstrous burden on an already battered economy even be an option, let alone now making this problem fall on the laps of successful companies and their patrons, who make use of television sets, along with mobile devices for their streaming services and have no obligation to the SABC whatsoever?
In finalising the SABC’s submission, the public broadcaster will take cognisance of the wide range of views expressed on the need for a licence fee or a public broadcasting levy.
However, it is essential to highlight that the process cannot be done without the public’s participation, and this is where you come in.
Therefore, the SABC is urging the public and all interested parties to make their comments to the DCDT by 30 November 2020.
It is paramount that we, as a community, participate. After all, significant public input can only further enrich the final policy outcome.
The SABC will comment further on these policy issues after the submission has been finalised internally and lodged with the DCDT at the end of November.
A link to the draft white paper can be found here, with details on how to make your submissions: https://www.gov.za/sites/default/files/gcis_document/202010/43797gon1081.pdf
Be a patriotic South African and don’t be a Karen. Get involved, take action—as together we the people can insight significant positive change.
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Authors: Quinton Boucher & Calvin Swemmer
Edited: Calvin Swemmer