SABC TV Licence head Sylvia Tladi has detailed the state broadcaster’s proposal for the amendment of South Africa’s broadcasting laws, which include requiring DStv to crack down on TV Licence payments.
In a statement published on 4 November, Tladi noted that legislation has not kept up with the advent of new technologies such as tablets, smartphones, the Internet, and laptops, arguing that this needs to be accounted for.
“A digitally connected world leads to greater participation of the masses and offers people more choices as is seen by the surge in connected devices such as laptops; tablets; IPTV; Internet; decoders/set-top boxes, and smartphones are only one part of the equation,” she said.
“These new devices, which have resulted in new media platforms and content dissemination channels, have a direct impact on TV licence legislation.”
The SABC has therefore submitted a review of the Public Broadcasting Policy, which states that to continue effectively serving South Africa’s public interest programming needs, these new devices must be included in the definition of a “TV set” – or what would now be known as a broadcasting device.
DStv TV Licence crackdown and streaming services
Tladi stressed the need for new legislation to improve compliance regarding the payment of TV Licence fees, arguing that local pay-TV operators such as DStv should enforce this.
“To ensure maximum compliance with legislative requirements concerning the payment of TV licence fees, the SABC proposes that the Act should place stricter obligations on all relevant stakeholders or role players because the ‘traditional’ television set is no longer the only means of receiving a television broadcast,” Tladi said.
“Therefore, to administer compliance on the payment of licence fees, the SABC is of the view that other entities must be compelled to report on the sale, lease or usage of these ‘television sets’ or viewing devices.”
She said that as is currently the case with purchasing a television set, the proposed revised legislation will also motivate pay-TV operators like DStv to hold their subscribers accountable for registering or having a valid television licence before the subscription, purchase, or rental of a decoder can be granted.
“Furthermore, submitted regulations aim to make it obligatory for Internet streaming and television streaming websites to pay a percentage of subscription fees to the SABC, where these websites stream SABC content,” Tladi said.
Proposals still being discussed
Tladi said the SABC sees itself as a multiplatform content provider that delivers public service content, which includes content gathering, creation, commissioning, curation, packaging and distribution through public service media.
“The proposed amendment to TV Licence Fee Regulations is critical to the SABC’s ability to benefit from the opportunities created by the convergence of the media and other technological developments in the broadcasting industry.”
This process is still in the consultation phase and requires more input from various stakeholders, including the public.
The SABC said it will keep the participation process transparent and fair, and that it encourages conversations with all South Africans, including the corporate community who would also be affected by the legislative changes.
“With the tide of technological advances in how we collect, store and disseminate information and stories, so too must the law evolve to regulate this space better and to reflect the current digital landscape we find ourselves in,” Tladi said.