Businesses must pay TV licences - SABC

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The SABC is challenging South African businesses to show their commitment to good corporate governance by renewing their business TV licences before the end of September 2008. The SABC's Audience Services Division (ASD), which is responsible for licence fee collection and the management of the TV licence system, says time is running out for businesses to meet their obligations - and the deadline.

“TV licence fee income currently constitutes 18% of the SABC's annual operating revenue,” says City Seokane, General Manager: Compliance, Audience Services Division of the SABC. “This revenue goes towards financing the SABC's public service obligations, which include broadcasting in South Africa's eleven official languages, and providing locally produced TV and radio programming that caters for the informational, cultural, religious and entertainment needs of South Africa's diverse society.

“Failure of the business community to comply with the regulations that govern the payment of TV licences will prevent the optimisation of funding for public broadcasting and handicap the SABC in the fulfilment of its broadcasting mandate. “Simply, we cannot accept excuses anymore. Businesses must pay their licence fees,” says Seokane.

The collection of TV licence fees is governed by the Broadcasting Act, no 4 of 1999, as amended, and the Television Licence Regulations in terms of the Act. The Broadcasting Act stipulates that any person or business entity possessing or using a television set must have a valid (paid-up) licence for that set. Irrespective of whether a TV set is used to view SABC TV, other broadcasters' television services or only videos and/or DVD's, a valid licence is required. In fact, the licence remains payable even if a TV set is not used at all.

Seokane says that in terms of the TV licence regulations, business entities are obliged to pay a fee for each television set on their business premises.

“Business entities also include members in the hospitality industry such as hotels, B&B's, lodges and guesthouses,” says Seokane. “Once a year, such businesses need to provide the SABC with an audited statement indicating the number of TV sets and the period for which these sets have been in their possession.

“Businesses with more than 10 television sets may qualify for a discount, which is calculated on a sliding scale depending on the number of sets and is subject to certain conditions,” he says.

The annual business licence fee payable per TV set is R225.00. The SABC's Business Accounts Department may be contacted on (011) 330 9702 for more information on the discount system.

“Non-compliance with any aspect of television licence legislation may result in penalties being incurred on an account as well as in other legal sanctions,” says Seokane.

The SABC's new-look TV Licence Inspectorate, launched last year, is tasked with assisting and educating the general public and businesses to comply with the law by paying their annual TV licences.

Clearly identifiable and uniformed TV Licence Inspectors conduct door-to-door visits on an ongoing basis. The inspectors can update information and facilitate licence payments but they may not accept any form of payment. The actual payment of the TV licence needs to be made via one of the many payment options available, including an easy online option at http://www.tvlic.co.za.

Anyone found in possession of a television set without a valid licence by a visiting inspector will be liable for payment of the prescribed annual licence fee plus a penalty of double the licence fee.