South Africa’s SABC Pushes Ahead With Plans To Hike TV Licence Fees, Amidst Objections
25 September 2019
The SABC is going ahead with its plans to increase TV licence fees as it battles to increase its revenue.
The executives at South Africa’s cash-strapped public broadcaster recently told MPs that the current TV licence tariff had remained unchanged since 2013. The Chairman of the SABC’s board Bongumusa Makhathini said that he believed South Africans could afford to pay a little bit more, a remark that prompted objections from many MPs.
Phumzile van Damme of the DA said that her party was opposed to any additional taxation being imposed on the already overburdened South Africans.
She urged the public broadcaster to find new revenue streams in order to stay afloat instead of increasing TV licence fees.
The SABC relies heavily on revenue from licence fees and advertising to stay afloat.
As it stands, the SABC is technically broke. Its declining revenue means that it is unable to pay its debt which is currently worth billions of rands. It has requested funding from the government to help it stay afloat and pay off some of its debt, but its bid for the financing has so far been unsuccessful, mainly due to its failure to meet some of the Treasury’s conditions.
Makhathini emphasised to members of parliament the need to review the TV licence fee. The SABC had in 2018 submitted an application to the Communications Minister but has still not received feedback.
According to the Broadcasting Act, the licence fee can only be increased once the Minister approves it.