Government owes SABC more than R28 million in TV licence fees

The South African government owes almost R60 million in TV licence and advertising fees to the SABC.

This was revealed in a written response from the Minister of the Communications and Digital Technologies Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams to Parliamentary questions posed by DA MP Phumzile van Damme.

The minister noted an amount of about R18.7 million is owed by a total of 126 provincial departments, while 20 national departments have outstanding TV licence fees balances totalling just shy of R1.7 million.

R6.3 million remains outstanding across 249 municipality accounts, while 57 state-owned enterprises (SOEs) have a TV licence debt of nearly R1.6 million.

Combined these entities owe around R28.3 million to the SABC for unpaid TV Licence fees.

The table below provides a breakdown of the exact amounts owed by each level/category of government.

Outstanding TV Licence fees
Government category/level Amount owed
National departments R1,688,295.30
Provincial departments R18,694,129.47
Municipalities R6,302,170.10
SOEs R1,595,601.76
Total R28,280,196.63

Advertising debt

In addition to the outstanding TV licence fees, various government entities owe the SABC’s sales division for advertising.

This includes three national departments, 24 provincial departments, six municipalities, and eight SOEs.

Durban’s Ethekweni Municipality accounted for the largest portion of outstanding advertising fees among municipalities – R1.18 million – while the Mopani District Municipality in Limpopo followed with R950,000 owed.

Government Communications and Information Services (GCIS), which falls under the authority of the Ministry in the Presidency, owes the SABC R12.27 million – by far the most of any national department.

With regards to provincial departments, the Limpopo Education Department was the worst offender – with over R1.9 million outstanding.

In total, the SABC is owed about R29.2 million in unpaid advertising bills.

The table below shows exactly how much is owed by each category/level of government.

Outstanding advertising bills
Government category/level Amount owed
National departments R13,139,832
Provincial departments R9,221,629
Municipalities R2,343,711
SOEs R4,535,975
Total R29,241,147

SABC Group CEO to intervene

The public broadcaster has repeatedly said it is struggling with TV Licence compliance – with less than a quarter of South Africans paying their fees in the 2019/2020 financial year.

In her reply, the minister stated that the SABC had told her it continues to follow its collection processes to collect outstanding debts from government entities by communicating these balances to the departments and SOEs.

However, it had launched “special” additional campaigns in the month of October with priority on SOEs.

“Intervention through the Group Chief Executive Officer’s communique is planned for distribution in the months to follow to all the departments and municipalities,” the minister noted.

Now read: The most popular TV shows on SABC and DStv during level 5 lockdown

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Government owes SABC more than R28 million in TV licence fees