SABC CEO James Aguma has informed Parliament that the Broadcasting Act should be changed to charge smartphone and PC owners a TV licence fee.
If you already chafe at the idea of having to pay a TV licence fee every year, you’re not going to like this. Incumbent SABC CEO James Aguma has informed Parliament that the SABC believes theat the Broadcasting Act should be changed to allow it to charge South Africans a Licence fee for ‘additional viewing devices’.
Put simply: If passed, the altered Broadcasting Act would charge South Africans a fee per every media device that could access SABC services – including smartphones, tablets, PCs, and other media devices. Read: Internet for All promises to connect 22 million South Africans to the web
Aguma proposed that the Broadcasting Act be amended before the Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Communications, citing that the SABC is “budgeting for lower revenue from SABC TV Licences this year” and that changes should be made to “make it mandatory for people to pay a TV Licence for more devices they view content on”.
Presently, a South African TV Licence applies to devices which can receive a television signal – this includes television sets, but excludes peripherals such as PC monitors.
The move comes in a bid to recoup income – Febe Potgieter-Gqubule, a member of the SABC’s interim board of directors, cited that the board had requested Aguma to present a strategy to reverse its recent losses.
Last year, former COO Hlaudi Motsoeneng provided a unilateral 90% local content policy that has dearly affected both television and radio broadcasters. Aguma cited that “the 90/10 local music quotas … had an impact of R29-million on radio and R183-million on television”.
It remains unclear as to whether the Act will be amended, but given the difficulty of regulating the sale of electronic goods on such a scale – notwithstanding consumer backlash – any amendment looks unlikely.