The SABC wants stricter legislation around TV Licences to help improve compliance amongst South Africans.
This is according to SABC Head of TV Licences Sylvia Tladi, who said in an interview with MyBroadband that stricter regulation is needed to improve compliance in terms of TV Licence fees.
In its annual report for the 2019 financial year, the SABC said it only collected payments from 2.9 million of the 9.4 million licence holders on its database.
This is a massive shortfall – one which Tladi said stricter laws around TV Licence payments are needed to fix.
“Our main priority is improving compliance,” Tladi said. “Part of that will include tying up loose ends where pay-TV operators are concerned as well as streaming services.”
“Obviously that doesn’t necessarily mean the licence holders will be compliant, so what we have put forward as well is that we would like our legislation to be a lot more strict on compliance.”
The SABC is currently reviewing its policies around TV Licences and is engaged in discussions with parliament around stricter regulation for TV Licence fee payments.
Continued compliance is key
There are a number of possible solutions to the SABC’s compliance problem, including placing obligations on streaming services and pay-TV operators to help the public broadcaster collect fees.
However, the main issue is continued compliance with TV Licence fees, Tladi said.
“We sit in a situation where we find that when people don’t pay their TV Licence, there is nothing that can happen to them,” she said.
“Back in the day, there were TV Licence inspectors who would go from door to door making sure that people have a TV Licence. We are in 2020 now – that approach obviously comes with a lot of paper, with a lot of costs, and there are other risks as well.”
“We are saying that our legislation right now does not empower us as the SABC to actually take further steps when people do not comply with the legislation,” she said.
She added that once the SABC does make headway into making a TV Licence mandatory for subscription services or decoder purchases, it will remain the SABC’s responsibility going forward to ensure consumers continue to pay their fees.
Under the umbrella of its central aim of improving compliance, Tladi said the SABC has requested the introduction of regulation which would place obligations on services such as MultiChoice and Netflix to collect TV licence fees on its behalf.
It has also suggested expanding the definition of hardware products for which a TV Licence is required to include smartphones, laptops, and tablets.
These potential changes are still under discussion and must be debated before parliament, concretely defined, and then made available for public comment before they are propagated further towards becoming law.