SABC eyes set-top box, satellite dish users to boost coffers

Deputy Communications Minister Pinky Kekana on Tuesday called on South Africans to pay their licence fees to help keep the broadcaster on air.

FILE: A television remote control. Picture: espensorvik/Flickr

CAPE TOWN - The South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) is looking at ways of earning more money from TV licences, including a fee increase.

Deputy Communications Minister Pinky Kekana on Tuesday called on South Africans to pay their licence fees to help keep the broadcaster on air.

Of more than nine million accounts on the SABC's database, only 1.8 million households and businesses are paying licence fees.

TV licences are the SABC’s second biggest income stream, but people aren’t paying. The SABC wants the fee hiked and stricter enforcement and penalties for non-payment as it beefs up how it collects the money and chases down defaulters.

Board member Michael Markowitz says the SABC has further plans.

“We want to extend it (the TV licence) to other apparatus which you need to watch TV with, like a PVR, or a set-top box or a satellite dish.”

Markowitz says this won’t include phones or computers. The SABC also wants pay-TV operators to have to check that subscribers have TV licences.

“We do think it’s fair that if you are taking out a subscription with them you’re obviously using a TV set. So, we think the law should be broadened to ask them to check that as well.”

Markowitz was briefing Parliament’s communications committee on Tuesday.

(Edited by Shimoney Regter)