The SABC is facing an enormous challenge in getting TV licence holders to pay their fees.
In a recent presentation to Parliament, the broadcaster conceded that increased non-compliance by licence holders had hurt its revenue collection in 2020.
Cash collections for the year to date (1 April – 31 July 2020) amount to R228.05 million with a shortfall of R166.99 million (42.3%).
Year on year, cash revenue is R17.97 million (7.3%) less than the previous fiscal year.
While the issue has been exacerbated by an inability to collect fees due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it is nothing new.
In its previous annual report for the 2019 financial year, the public broadcaster said it only collected payments from 2.9 million of the 9.4 million licence holders on its database.
A TV licence currently costs R265 per year (or R28 per month) which means that for that year alone the SABC had a shortfall on collections of around R1.7 billion.
While it is highly likely that a large part of those outstanding fees is from non-paying people who actually own and use TV sets, others may truly no longer have use of a TV licence.
This is because many licence holders could have switched to exclusively get their dose of entertainment from online streaming services like Netflix, Showmax, and Amazon Prime.
Fortunately, there are a few ways in which licence holders can receive an exemption from payment.
Who needs to pay
As determined by the Broadcasting Act, No. 4 of 1999, any person or entity who is in possession of and/or uses a TV set must pay a TV licence.
In South Africa, a TV set is defined as any device designed or adapted to be capable of receiving a broadcast television signal.
In addition to standard TVs with signal receivers, this could include a PC equipped with a TV tuner card, or a videocassette recorder (VCR) connected to a computer monitor or display.
It should be noted that regardless of whether a TV set is used or not, a licence remains payable.
Dispose of or denature your TV to cancel
The obvious reason you may no longer need a licence would be if you don’t own a TV set capable of receiving broadcast signals.
If you have sold or disposed of the set, you will need to notify the SABC on a prescribed form of the change in circumstances.
The SABC notes that no licence will be cancelled while fees are outstanding, however.
Another way to validate the cancellation of your TV licence is to denature the TV set, which involves the removal of its signal tuner by a reputable TV repairer or installer.
To qualify for this exemption, a written notice of the denaturing must be sent to the SABC, along with documentary proof such as an invoice, receipt, or letter from the repairer/installer.
This application must also be accompanied by a R300 payment to the SABC.
Following this, an authorised agent will be sent to the applicant’s address to confirm that he or she has no TV receiving equipment.
Once this is confirmed to the SABC, the licence holder will be exempt for paying for their TV licence.
Not a one-off deal
It’s important to note that this exemption will only be valid for the rest of the current licensing period.
Extending the exemption for subsequent years will require that you furnish the SABC with a written application in the form of an affidavit which confirms that you still don’t have TV receiving equipment.
This needs to be sent to the broadcaster on an annual basis three months before the end of each licence year.
The SABC warns that if an authorised inspector visits your premises and finds the receiving capability of your TV equipment has been restored, you will be held liable for payment of all applicable licence fees and penalties, plus a R300 inspection fee.
It should be noted that a reduced concessionary licence fee of R74 per year is available to all South Africans over the age of 70, and those who receive a state old-age, disability, or war veteran’s grant.
All notices, applications, and queries for exemptions and the concessionary licence can be addressed to the following channels:
- Post – The Manager, Television Licenses, SABC, Private Bag X60, Auckland Park 2006
- Email – [email protected]
- Fax – (011) 330-9560/1
- Phone – (011) 330-9555