SABC wants TV li­cence hike Pub­lic broad­caster also calls for tougher penal­ties

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THE SOUTH African Broad­cast­ing Cor­po­ra­tion (SABC) has called for stricter en­force­ment and penal­ties for the non-pay­ment of TV li­cences.

“There are cur­rently 1.8 mil­lion TV li­cence-pay­ing house­holds and busi­nesses out of a to­tal of nine mil­lion ac­counts on the SABC data­base,” SABC chair­per­son Bongu­musa Makhathini said.

Ad­dress­ing the SABC Pol­icy Re­view Col­lo­quium on Thurs­day, Makhathini said the SABC strongly be­lieved that an over­haul of the TV fee sys­tem would go a long way in fund­ing the pub­lic broad­cast­ing man­date.

“We be­lieve that a cred­i­ble, trusted, prop­erly run pub­lic broad­caster can cre­ate a cul­ture of in­creased TV li­cence pay­ment.

“The TV li­cence fee is not the same as the sub­scrip­tion fee charged by pay TV broad­cast­ers. It is also not linked to how much you con­sume or watch SABC con­tent, rather the TV li­cence fee is an es­tab­lished, in­ter­na­tion­ally ac­cepted, statu­tory fund­ing mech­a­nism for pub­lic broad­cast­ing,” he said.

Makhathini said the SABC had 18 ra­dio sta­tions fea­tur­ing all of­fi­cial lan­guages, three TV chan­nels as well as two chan­nels on DSTV.

“The SABC be­lieves much more can be done to im­prove rev­enue from this source (TV li­cences),” he said.

Min­is­ter of Com­mu­ni­ca­tions, Nomvula Mokonyane, pointed out mean­while that the SABC was not in a healthy fi­nan­cial po­si­tion ow­ing to an as­sort­ment of chal­lenges that be­sieged it in the last few years.

“Ad­mit­tedly, some of the chal­lenges are man-made and there­fore, could have been avoided. How­ever, the ma­jor­ity of the chal­lenges be­sieg­ing the pub­lic broad­caster are his­tor­i­cal and struc­tural. In­stead of deal­ing with them, they have been con­tin­u­ously de­ferred,” she said.

The min­is­ter said the pres­sures that were ex­erted by the SABC’s in­abil­ity to broad­cast Premier Soc­cer League (PSL) matches in Au­gust points out that even in a mul­ti­chan­nel en­vi­ron­ment, not only in de­vel­op­ing coun­tries, the role of the pub­lic broad­caster can­not be un­der­es­ti­mated.

“The SABC is the pulse of our na­tion – the win­dow through which our cul­ture and her­itage are seen, par­tic­u­larly as we be­gin our Her­itage Month,” she said.

This was echoed by Deputy Min­is­ter Pinky Kekana, who said there had been some changes in the broad­cast­ing sec­tor in the past few years.

“Th­ese rapid changes in the me­dia and broad­cast­ing sec­tor are pri­mar­ily driven by a dig­i­tal shift and to some ex­tent the grow­ing num­ber of con­nected ci­ti­zens, the de­vel­op­ment of mo­bile tele­phony and high mo­bile broad­band adop­tion.

“The growth of the digi­ti­sa­tion of our me­dia land­scape also has a struc­tural ef­fect and cer­tainly re­quires of broad­cast­ers to re­de­fine their busi­ness mod­els and for gov­ern­ment to re­cal­i­brate leg­isla­tive frame­work,” she said.

The deputy min­is­ter said that in the new me­dia world, suc­cess­ful broad­cast­ers will need to de­liver a dis­tinc­tive, per­son­alised ex­pe­ri­ence at scale – as well as con­tinue to make and dis­trib­ute the very best and most cre­ative pro­grammes.

The col­lo­quium brought to­gether var­i­ous in­ter­na­tional and na­tional pol­icy ex­perts as well as role-play­ers on pub­lic broad­cast­ing to shed light on cut­ting-edge chal­lenges such as the de­mands of the 4th In­dus­trial Rev­o­lu­tion, col­lab­o­ra­tive op­por­tu­ni­ties and strate­gies to re­shape the SABC of the fu­ture.

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