What happens if you do not pay your TV licence

Many South Africans do not pay the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) for their TV licence despite being required to do so.

The Broadcasting Act, No. 4 of 1999 states that 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.

Whether you use this hardware or not, you are required to pay for the TV licence fee of R265 per year or R28 per month if you possess the hardware listed above.

If you dispose of your TV tuner-enabled hardware or denature it by removing its ability to receive a TV broadcast signal, you may apply to cancel your TV licence provided you have no fees outstanding.

What will happen if you do not pay

The SABC outlines clear consequences on its website for those who do not pay their TV licence fees.

“Overdue accounts are handed over to the SABC’s lawyers for debt collection,” the SABC states.

“If payments are late, an account incurs a penalty of 10% per month to a maximum of 100% per annum.”

This means you will be liable for double your overdue TV licence fee – or R530 – if you do not pay your TV licence for a year after it is due.

You can also be taken to court for violation of the Broadcasting Act, where if you are found guilty, you may be sentenced to a fine of not more than R500 or imprisonment for up to six months, or both.

Before the issue reaches this stage, however, you will likely be contacted by one of the many debt collection agencies employed by the SABC.

The agencies currently on the SABC panel are as follows:

  • Anthony Richards & Associates
  • Asili Risk Management
  • Hahn Collections
  • Khumalo Masondo Incorporated
  • Revenue Consulting

Dealing with non-payment

In a recent presentation to parliament, the SABC showed that it was having a major problem getting South Africans to pay for their TV licences.

This was exacerbated by the lockdown period, which prevented payments at retail pay points and the operation of the broadcaster’s call centre.

The SABC, however, said that it does not pursue legal recourse against non-paying citizens for a number of reasons.

“Legislated recourse is available to the SABC however would be difficult and impractical to implement due to socio-economic and political factors,” the SABC said.

“Instead, the SABC utilizes the services of Debt Collection Agencies and attorneys to collect licence fees in arrears. This process is less harsh than the legislated provision.”

The public broadcaster has also said that it plans to use marketing campaigns and settlement of outstanding fees to encourage payment of accounts by TV licence holders.

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What happens if you do not pay your TV licence