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HomeBusinessSARS Will Collect SABC TV Licenses As Debt Grows Out Of Control

SARS Will Collect SABC TV Licenses As Debt Grows Out Of Control

The SABC only earned R815 million in TV licence money in the fiscal year 2021/22, which is just over 18% of the approximately R4.45 billion it billed viewers in the same period, resulting in an R3.6 billion shortfall.

SARS Will Collect SABC TV Licenses As Debt Grows Out Of Control - SurgeZirc SA
SARS Will Collect SABC TV Licenses As Debt Grows Out Of Control.

A new plan is currently being considered to replace the SABC’s TV licences with a ring-fenced fee collected by the SA Revenue Service (SARS), as less than a fifth of viewers are paying.

The government is exploring these recommendations to help the public broadcaster better fulfil its mandate, according to the Department of Communications and Digital Technologies’ draft White Paper on audio and audiovisual media services and online content safety, which is dated July 2023.

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Furthermore, the draft White Paper proposes a major revamp of the SABC’s financial model based on international best practices to ensure that the public broadcaster has the revenues to fulfil its public mandate.

MultiChoice, a satellite television provider, is proposing a change to the SABC’s funding model that would phase out TV licences and replace them with a ring-fenced public broadcasting service (PBS) charge collected by the revenue service.

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This is the so-called Nordic model, which usually refers to Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden. According to the department, this proposed funding approach is being evaluated in the SABC Bill.

The SABC only earned R815 million in TV licence money in the fiscal year 2021/22, which is just over 18% of the approximately R4.45 billion it billed viewers in the same period, resulting in an R3.6 billion shortfall.

According to its most recent annual report, the SABC also paid R73 million to collect TV license fees. Mondli Gungubele, Minister of Communications and Digital Technologies, recently reported that there were 9.2 million accounts with R44.2 billion in unpaid balances.

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“These balances comprise unpaid invoices and penalties levied for non-payment over several years. At least 5.6 million accounts have been handed over for external debt collection,” Gungubele said, in response to EFF MP Sinawo Tambo’s parliamentary questions.

Gungubele stated that his department suggested replacing the television licence model with the household fee model in the SABC Bill, which was approved by the Cabinet in November last year for submission to Parliament for consideration.

”Pending the legislative changes, the Department of Communications and Digital Technologies will continuously engage with the SABC and National Treasury to examine the options for the necessary reform and enhancement required of the current TV licence system to properly provide for the funding requirements of the SABC and the most appropriate collection, enforcement systems and a time frame for implementation,” he said.

It is also envisaged that the proposed changes to the TV licence fee section will widen the definition of and collecting system for television licenses, as well as increase enforcement methods and penalties for nonpayment.

Other ideas in the draft White Paper include establishing a new commercial board for the SABC’s public commercial division, with the sole objective of generating cash to sustain the SABC and continuing to fund its public service mandate.

It is also envisaged that the proposed changes to the TV licence fee section will widen the definition of and collecting system for television licenses, as well as increase enforcement methods and penalties for nonpayment.

Other ideas in the draft White Paper include establishing a new commercial board for the SABC’s public commercial division, with the sole objective of generating cash to sustain the SABC and continuing to fund its public service mandate.

The public broadcaster is expected to have a legislative mandate to operate international satellite television, radio, and internet services under the name SABC international broadcast service or SABC foreign broadcasting service, which will include Channel Africa radio services and the Department of International Relations and Cooperation’s 24-hour internet-based radio station, Ubuntu Radio.

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Kagiso Media emphasized that any state financial assistance or support for the SABC’s public mandate, as outlined in the draft White Paper, must be done responsibly and fairly in order to avoid distorting competition between the public broadcaster and its commercial radio broadcasting competitors.

However, its concerns were allayed and described as contrary to international best practices because public broadcasters, such as the BBC, have commercial arms selling their channels as well as over-the-top (offerings to users over the internet without traditional cable or satellite TV) platforms and commercializing their content.

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Elize Coetzee for SurgeZirc SA
Elize Coetzee for SurgeZirc SAhttps://new.surgezirc.co.za
Elize Coetzee, a seasoned journalist, is the driving force behind SurgeZirc SA’s world news and world politics coverage. With an unwavering commitment to truth, Elize delves into global affairs, providing live updates, in-depth investigations, and thought-provoking analysis. Whether it’s geopolitical tensions, international diplomacy, or breaking stories, Elize’s incisive reporting keeps readers informed and engaged.
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