Why there are no TVs you can buy without a TV licence

Many South Africans find it frustrating to pay for a TV licence to buy a television, although they will never use the device to receive a TV broadcast signal.

In terms of the Broadcasting Act, No 4 of 1999, any person or entity that has in its possession and/or uses a TV set must have a TV licence.

A TV set is any device designed or adapted to receive a broadcast television signal.

Makro said that, by law, customers must either purchase or produce a valid TV licence when buying any television.

No need for a TV tuner, or a TV licence

Online services like Netflix and ShowMax are replacing traditional broadcast TV, and make a TV tuner in a television redundant.

Even when using a television with a DStv decoder, there is no need for a TV tuner.

This raises the question: Why do televisions, especially high-end TVs, still ship with a TV tuner? Especially as this forces South Africans to buy a TV licence.

Hisense SA’s Tommy Jiang said that producing TVs without a tuner would be a risk to Hisense, as there are still many consumers who don’t have DStv or use smart TV functions.

He said digital TV is set to change the broadcast market, with more content and higher picture quality.

Jiang expects digital TV to have an impact on DStv’s market share, which means more people will have the need for a TV tuner in their television.

Matthew Thackrah, deputy MD at Samsung South Africa, said Samsung adheres to global market trends and standards, which call for TVs to have tuners.

“This also ensures TVs benefit from large-scale production efficiencies,” said Thackrah.

He said tuners are either analogue or digital, and with South Africa moving towards digital broadcasting, TVs will require a digital tuner in future.

No plans to produce tuner-less TVs

Jiang said the prospect of TVs without a tuner has been discussed globally, and the item stays on Hisense’s development agenda.

“However, we still don’t have a plan for when it will come to South Africa – as the market might not need it for a while. But when the need arises, we’ll be ready to serve the market.”

Thackrah said Samsung has no plans to produce TVs without a tuner.

More on TV licences

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Buying a TV without a TV licence – bad news

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Why there are no TVs you can buy without a TV licence