State wants licence fees from streaming and mobile viewers

Deputy communications minister Pinky Kekana wants video-on-demand users to start paying for TV licences to benefit the SABC.
Image: Tyrone Arthur

The government has proposed plans that would see people who don’t have television sets but enjoy video on demand entertainment services via mobile devices paying for TV licences.

​Communications deputy minister Pinky Kekana told parliament’s portfolio committee on communications this week that the definition of TV licences in its current form was archaic and should be amended to include other electronic devices such as laptops, cellphones and tablets.

The state uses funds from TV licences to bankroll the SABC, which last year reported a net loss of almostR500m.

“Regulation is needed on pay service providers like MultiChoice and subscription video on demand providers like Netflix to collect TV licences on behalf of the SABC, similar to municipalities collecting traffic fines and motor vehicle disc fines from motorists. The [definition of] TV licence is outdated and needs to be adjusted to current realities,” she said.

Kekana said collecting TV licence fees from non-TV users would help boost the state-owned entity’s struggling balance sheet.

“We also have other platforms where people consume content and in all of those areas, that is where we should look at how we are able to get SABC licence fees from those gadgets,” she said.

Kekana also proposed that commercial TV broadcasters with more than 30 channels should be barred from carrying SABC channels while also calling for sports channels to be offered at affordable rates.

By Mpho Sibanyoni-SowetanLIVE

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