What you can and can’t buy without a TV licence in South Africa

The SABC’s TV licence has made headlines in recent weeks, thanks to the organisation stating it wants to raise licence fees.

The SABC stated in September that its TV licence fee of R265 per year has not changed since 2013.

“The licence fee grew marginally by 27% from 2002 to date – a very small effective increase over a 16-year period,” added the SABC.

A rebasing of the fee to strengthen the collection of this revenue is therefore required, said the SABC.

The SABC also called for more frequent increases of TV licence fees – with the aim to have an annual price hike in line with inflation.

TV licence requirements

South Africans require a TV licence when purchasing a TV, whether it is new or used.

In addition to this, the seller of a TV must provide the SABC with information of the buyer – including their name and physical address.

Certain items beyond TVs also require a TV licence when being purchased, and retailers are not supposed to let a consumer purchase the product without a valid TV licence.

There are, however, many devices that provide users with streaming entertainment and “TV services” that do not require a TV licence when being purchased.

With the holiday shopping season approaching, the list below details what you need to know.


TV – Licence required

Televisions fitted with the ability to receive a broadcast television signal – which encompasses most modern TVs in South Africa – cannot be sold to a consumer without a TV licence.

Samsung Q8C Curved TV


Smart panels – No licence required

A smart panel is essentially a smart TV minus the ability to receive a broadcast signal.

The panel looks and works like a TV, and includes a remote control, built-in speakers, and HDMI and USB ports.

What makes it different to a PC monitor is that it runs an operating system, such as Android.

Mecer Display


DStv decoder – No licence to purchase, but licence to operate

According to local retailers, consumers do not need a TV licence to buy a DStv decoder.

Prominent online and physical retailers were checked by MyBroadband, and none asked us for a TV licence when we wanted to purchase a DStv decoder.

When a DStv decoder is connected to a display and used to watch DStv channels, however, users are required to have a TV licence.

DStv WiFi


PC TV tuner card – No licence to purchase, but licence to operate

Consumers can buy a TV tuner card for their PC without a TV licence. This will let them receive a television broadcast signal on their PC.

Using a TV card in your PC when connected to a monitor, however, will require users to have a valid TV licence.

TV Card


Apple TV and Android media players – No licence required

Apple TV devices or Android media players – also known as Android TV boxes – let users watch shows and movies on services such as Netflix, Showmax, and DStv Now when connected to a TV or monitor.

Because the media players stream content over an Internet connection, consumers do not need a TV licence to buy them. If connected to a PC monitor or smart display, users also do not need a TV licence to operate them.

Apple TV 4K


Now read: You cannot accept a TV as a gift unless you have a valid TV licence

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What you can and can’t buy without a TV licence in South Africa