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James Aguma proposes changes to Broadcasting Act as DA asks him to step down

The SABC CEO has blamed negative media reporting about the SABC for the fall in the number of people willing to fork out for TV licenses.

FILE: SABC acting group CEO James Aguma. Picture: Screengrab.

CAPE TOWN - The South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) acting group CEO James Aguma says the Broadcasting Act should be changed so that people who view content on devices other than a TV will also have to pay license fees.

Aguma has blamed negative media reporting about the SABC for the fall in the number of people willing to fork out for TV licenses.

The SABC is in a financial crisis and is expected to ask National Treasury for assistance to the tune of around R1 billion.

Briefing Parliament's communications committee on Wednesday, Aguma suggested that broadening the scope for license fees would boost revenue.

“On changes to the Broadcasting Act to increase revenue from TV licenses, here we are saying the majority of non-paying TV licenses maybe can be brought into the net if we can change the Broadcasting Act to do two things - one to define what a receiving device is because now you can view content on different platforms. Yet the act is only limited to TV as a viewing device.”

‘AGUMA SHOULD STEP DOWN’

At the same time, Democratic Alliance Member of Parlaiment Phumzile van Damme says the SABC’s acting group CEO should step down.

Aguma blamed poor economic growth and Hlaudi Motsoeneng’s local content policy as the reason for revenue losses at the public broadcaster and noted that litigation costs were another drain on the SABC’s coffers.

But van Damme told Aguma that he had sanctioned the local content decision and had also sat alongside Motsoeneng, supporting him in multiple court actions.

“It’s very strange that you are sitting here today presenting matters flatly about the SABC finances like you weren’t part of directly causing the problem. You are personally responsible for the problems that the SABC finds itself in - and you should have taken personal responsibility by resigning.”

(Edited by Winnie Theletsane)

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