In order to buy a TV in South Africa, the SABC requires that you have a TV licence to make the purchase.
This is true even if you never connect anything to the aerial connection on your TV set, as the potential to receive traditional analogue signals, and the content broadcast over this medium, is still present.
One way around this is to purchase a smart TV panel, which does not have any TV tuner hardware and subsequently does not require a TV licence.
These are relatively rare compared to the number of standard TVs available in the South African market, however.
It is reasonable to assume that most owners of high-end TVs, like Samsung’s QLED or LG’s OLED products, do not connect a coaxial cable from their aerial directly to their TV, instead passing it through a decoder or other device (if they connect it at all).
However, major TV manufacturers still include TV tuner hardware in the majority of their TVs, including their expensive products aimed at high-end consumers.
MyBroadband asked Samsung, LG, and Hisense why TV tuner hardware is still included in their high-end products and whether they have any plans to offer TVs with this hardware omitted.
Samsung South Africa told MyBroadband that it includes TV tuner hardware to cater for the entire market.
“Due to the availability of other formats with Samsung South Africa, we need to cater for the entire market despite decoders being available,” the company said.
“The feature is an additional advantage to the consumer, and our QEngine technology caters for all formats.”
Samsung added that it currently has no plans to offer high-end TVs without tuner hardware.
“Currently, there are no envisaged changes to the 2018 and 2019 model line-up.”
When asked what percentage of people buying its high-end QLED TVs end up using the traditional coaxial cable connection, Samsung said it did not have the data required to comment accurately.
LG South Africa communications manager Dean Daffue told MyBroadband that coaxial cable connections can still be used to connect external devices to the TV.
“Some high-end component systems still utilise coaxial cables,” Daffue said.
“Some customers still enjoy older DVD players and the content they have spent years collecting, so we have kept the coaxial cables to ensure the high-end TVs cater for all the needs of our customers.”
He added that most customers use HDMI, with the need to include coaxial cables slowly fading away along with the DVD market.
“Most customers are on HDMI at present, but as we see the DVD market slowly fade, the need for coaxial ports will soon not exist,” Daffue said.
“South Africa is still on analogue signal, so the need for these tuners will still be evident until digital signal is rolled out.”
He added that premium LG TVs should include all the features available in lower-end products and much more.
“When you invest in a premium TV, you should get everything the entry-level panel has and more, whether you use those functions or not,” Daffue said.
MyBroadband reached out to Hisense for feedback, but the company did not respond by the time of publication.