TV licences: In the age of online streaming, is it feasible for the SABC to still charge licence fees?

TV licences: In the age of online streaming, is it feasible for the SABC to still charge licence fees?


Long gone are the days where people had to rely solely on their televisions for entertainment. As video streaming technology and subscription services such as YouTube and Netflix increased, a new era was ushered in that drew away from the purpose of having a television set when entertainment could be accessed from different devices.

Because of this, more people have started shying away from paying unnecessary fees to the SABC for their television sets. In addition to this, the bill that was passed in July did not provide for further government funding and it does not secure the financial sustainability of the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC).

The SABC bill retains the outdated TV license system, and it fails to consider the view of the SABC that it must be replaced with a household levy that is technology-neutral, exempting the indigent and which must be part-collected by the SABC.

What do you need to know about the new household levy from the SABC?

The SABC has called for a more even playing field amongst different competitors in the entertainment field, especially with the dominant MultiChoice.

The SABC has recommended that household levy systems be based on the possibility of access to SABC services, rather than actual usage.

In addition, the German household levy model was cited by the SABC, and it has reiterated that, as a pro-competitive measure as well as regulatory obligation, the dominant subscription broadcaster must collect public broadcasting household levies from subscribers.

Linking the levy to a single device would not be feasible or sustainable, and it would not secure the SABC’s financial position. The new model, which is based on the German model, will ensure that the SABC receive stable income for public service missions.

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