The South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) has recently published a proposal to increase TV licence fees, but this plan may backfire.
The SABC’s CFO, Yolande van Biljon, said that a proposal to increases TV licence fees had been drafted and sent to the Minister of Communications, Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams.
The SABC would not give further details about its plan to increase licence fees, but many people have warned that this plan will backfire.
According to the SABC’s latest figures, only 27.8% of people who watch TV in South Africa have a valid TV licence, and this figure may fall further if the fees are increased.
People are tired of paying higher taxes to bail out corrupt and mismanaged state-owned enterprises, and many people see TV licence fees as just another tax.
DA to oppose higher TV licence fees
The DA’s Shadow Minister of Communications and Digital Technologies, Phumzile Van Damme, said the DA will oppose higher TV licence fees.
According to Van Damme, the SABC’s proposal amounts to the taxation of already over-burdened South African taxpayers.
“We call on the public broadcaster to find new revenue streams to stay afloat instead of imposing increases to TV licence fees,” she said.
She added that the SABC needs to find innovative measures to strengthen its collection of revenue as poor South Africans will, without doubt, be unlikely to afford increased licence fees.
“The SABC must position itself as a trustworthy and properly managed entity to encourage current TV licence holders to make payments,” said Van Damme.
Furthermore, she said, the broadcaster should explore purchasing content that will attract viewers.
“By doing so, they will see an increase in advertising revenue. Advertising makes up the bulk of the SABC’s revenue, and an increase in advertising will surely be a boost for the SABC,” she said.
People not watching SABC
A large percentage of people who currently pay TV licence fees have stopped watching linear TV in preference of streaming services like Netflix.
Well-known media expert and marketing analyst Chris Moerdyk said the SABC is “grabbing at straws” and lacks any form of business understanding.
He said the SABC’s collections record is so abysmal that the chances of being caught watching TV without a licence are more than remote.
Another problem is that a large number of SABC viewers are in low-income groups and cannot afford higher TV licence fees.
“To make matters worse, more and more viewers who do have the money to pay TV licences are watching channels such as Netflix and others online,” said Moerdyk.
“They feel angry about having to pay fees to the SABC when they don’t spend a minute of the year actually watching anything on SABC TV.”
He argued that the SABC’s plan to increase TV licence fees will “almost certainly result in less revenue being collected, and not more”.