Namibia: NBC misses Television licence collection target

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A campaign to get more Namibians to pay their television licences has led to the NBC collecting N$15.9 million in licence fees last year, 16 per cent more than it did the previous year. However, the national broadcaster didn't meet the target of N$18 million it had set for itself.

"It will probably be tomorrow's headlines - 'NBC misses target. DG's bonus compromised'," Albertus Aochamub, director general of the NBC, said tongue-in-cheek last week at the ceremony to announce the prize winners of the broadcaster's TV licence competition.

Aochamub is eligible for a performance bonus of 30 per cent of annual salary if he meets the targets set by the board.

Despite not reaching the N$18-million level, Aochamub said the NBC still made significant progress in collecting licence fees.

"Namibians are willing and eager to pay their licences. We must just make it easier for them to do so," he said.

Licence fees have the potential of generating N$40 million a year for the NBC. However, efficient collection still faces serious challenges, especially on the technical front, Aochamub said.

The NBC also needs to ask itself how cost effective its collection measures are, he said. Currently, it costs the NBC 33c for every N$1 it collects in licence fees.

Aochamub furthermore said the NBC is looking for international benchmarks to find out how successful it is when it comes to collecting licence fees.

At the moment, the NBC collects about 20 per cent of what is due to it. The South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC), on the other hand, collects between 40 per cent and 45 per cent.

"We have a lot of work to do if we want to get to 50 per cent," Aochamub said.

He said the NBC needs to be able to get real-time data. When a person pays his licence, it should register on the NBC's system immediately, not a week later. The NBC also needs to move away from a system where licences are bought manually, as this creates the temptation for officials to use the cash for others purposes.

The NBC is making progress on these issues, Aochamub said.

The broadcaster is also looking at increasing TV licence fees, he said. The last time the NBC did so, was in 2001.

Aochamub said he knows this is a controversial option, but added that the running costs of the NBC haven't stayed stagnant.

Higher fees would create an expectation from viewers for better content, though, he said - more movies, more local dramas, more sport. But for that, the NBC needs more money.

"The public is going to have to meet us halfway," Aochamub said.