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Thread: Television Licenses - The Truth Revealed

  1. #1
    Super Grandmaster HapticSimian's Avatar
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    Default Television Licenses - The Truth Revealed

    Over the last couple of days I have been embroiled in many an argument regarding the payment of tv licenses. Because of my stance I have no doubt that some fellow forumites think I am out of my mind, while others wouldn't bother to take a couple of minutes to read through the information I am going to post in this thread.

    If you don't want to educate yourself, then so be it - you can only bring the proverbial a$$ to the water, you can't make him drink. For those who are interested, I hope you will find some value in the information here...

    Why do I have such a militant view on television licenses? Two reasons: Firstly, it is one of my personal gripes when people choose to argue an uninformed viewpoint. There is no excuse for being ignorant of anything. If you don't agree with something, get the FACTS on the matter & measure your view against them before shooting off your mouth. Secondly, the SABC paid for my upbringing. My Dad has in the region of 30 years' service with the corporation. Starting on the bottom rung, he eventually reached the level of National Director of Radio News. With the dawn of 'democracy' he was predictably shifted from this position, but has subsequently been contracted back to the service of the SABC in various capacities as and when his knowledge & experience was needed.

    With this in mind I will post a number of documents in this thread which should at least shed some light on the matter of television licenses.
    Last edited by HapticSimian; 09-07-2009 at 08:49 AM.
    In the Age of Information
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  2. #2
    Super Grandmaster HapticSimian's Avatar
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    Default The Mandate of the SABC - What THE LAW Requires from the Public Broadcaster

    A TV licence is not a "service contract" between a licence holder and the SABC. Payment of TV licence fees is a statutory (legal) requirement in terms of an Act of Parliament, and does not confer any rights on a licence holder to make demands of the SABC. The State – not licence holders – prescribe the services to be rendered by the SABC.

    As South Africa′s national broadcaster the SABC is mandated to provide comprehensive broadcasting services (radio and television) for all South Africans, taking into account their ethnic, language, cultural and religious diversity. To this end, the SABC is legally obliged to –
    - inform;
    - educate;
    - entertain;
    - support and develop culture and education; and
    - as far as is possible, ensure fair and equitable treatment for the various cultural groupings in the nation and the country.

    The SABC′s obligations to give effect to this mandate include the following:
    - Broadcasting on radio and television in all official languages. A television licence gives access to three terrestrial SABC TV channels and 19 radio stations – 11 of them full-spectrum services, one for each of the country's language groups. Since there are no radio licences payable many people believe that radio is "free of charge", but the cost of running the SABC′s radio stations amounts to millions of rand per year.

    - Providing everything from cultural, religious and music programmes to formal and informal education; local, national and international news, weather reports and other informational programmes; discussions and documentaries on topical issues such as economics, politics, world affairs, religion, moral, social and health issues, etc; comprehensive sports coverage; feature films, mini-series, sitcoms, local drama and other entertainment to suit the needs and tastes of its diverse audiences.

    -Making its services available countrywide, as widely as possible, with universal access as the ultimate aim. This means beaming its radio and television signals to small numbers of listeners/viewers in remote, sparsely populated areas.

    The implication of the above is that the SABC is mandated to provide the kind of services that no private, profit-driven broadcaster would be willing to deliver, and to make radio and TV services available in areas where other broadcasters would not. In fact, all SABC broadcasting services have been made available via satellite – without licence holders having been required to make any financial contribution towards this expensive development.

    Payment of TV licence fees does not constitute offer and acceptance in a commercial sense. The only effect that the issuing of a licence has is to legalise the use of a TV set by a licence holder. The Act does not allow licence holders to withhold payment until and unless the SABC delivers TV programmes or other "services" to their satisfaction.
    In the Age of Information
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    Super Grandmaster HapticSimian's Avatar
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    Default FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS: TV LICENCES & PROGRAMME ISSUES (Part 1)

    1. WHY DOES ONE NEED TO PAY A TELEVISION LICENCE FEE?

    1.1 Legal Obligation
    Payment of television licence fees is not an SABC requirement. TV licences are payable in terms of the Broadcasting Act, No 4 of 1999, as amended, that governs the SABC's activities. In other words, it is a statutory (legal) obligation in terms of an Act of Parliament. The Act states that no one may have in his/her possession and/or use a TV set without being in possession of a valid (paid-up) licence issued by the SABC against payment of the prescribed fee. The current fee is R225.00 per annum for a domestic licence and R65.00 per annum for a concessionary licence.

    1.2 Access to Broadcasting Frequencies
    In all countries, the electromagnetic spectrum (broadcasting frequencies) through which all TV and radio signals are transmitted and received is regarded as a national asset. Since only a limited number of frequencies are available it is strictly controlled by the State. Broadcasters pay by way of a radio or television broadcasting licence for the right of using this resource to broadcast programmes to their viewers. TV viewers, in turn, need a television licence for being in possession of a device (a TV set) that enables them to access those frequencies in order to receive broadcast programmes. The television licence fee is a levy imposed by the State, not the SABC, on access to South Africa's broadcasting frequencies. In the same way that a vehicle licence grants a motorcar owner access to the country's road network, a TV licence authorises the use of a television set to access the broadcasting frequencies.

    1.3 What if One Never Watches SABC TV?
    The licence fee therefore remains payable even if one never watches SABC1, 2 or 3 but only the M-Net pay channel, the private broadcaster e-tv or the digital DStv satellite service, since the signal still reaches one's television set via the broadcasting frequencies.

    In the same way that one has to pay a fairly high additional toll fee for travelling in one′s motor-car on a multiple-lane toll road, an expensive additional subscription fee is payable for access to pay-TV channels such as M-Net or DStv. Subscription to the latter currently costs ±R440.00 per month. However, subscribing to a pay-TV channel doesn't exempt one from paying one's television licence, in the same way that paying for travelling on a toll road does not exempt one from licensing one's motor vehicle.

    In fact, a valid licence is required even if one does not use one's TV set at all – since it is still in one′s possession and has the capability of receiving a TV signal. In the same way that one isn't exempted from payment of a vehicle licence on the grounds of "not using" one's motorcar, that is not a legally acceptable reason for non-payment of one's TV licence fees. As long as one has a TV set in one′s possession, the licence remains payable – regardless of how it is used or whether it is used at all. There is no legal obligation on the SABC to "send out TV licence inspectors to verify that my TV set is not being used", as demanded by some viewers.

    1.4 Licence or Service Contract?
    A TV licence is therefore not a "service contract" in terms of which the SABC has to provide all kinds of "services" to "subscribers" before the licence fee becomes payable. A TV licence is not a "product" of some kind, "purchased" by "consumers" on the basis of its offering better value than similar competing products. Like a vehicle licence or a liquor, hunting or fishing licence it is nothing more and nothing less than an official authorisation – in this case, the right to have in one′s possession and/or use a television set. Neither is the licence fee "payment" for the SABC′s TV programmes, nor is there any exemption or "discount" because of dissatisfaction with the language dispensation or programmes on television, or on any other grounds whatsoever. There is also no ″discount″ for "watching very little TV."

    1.5 Viewer Demands
    The Broadcasting Act makes no provision for the SABC having to meet licence holders' demands before the licence fee becomes payable. In the same way that one cannot refuse to pay one's motor vehicle licence because of dissatisfaction with road or street conditions or for any other reason, TV licence payments may not be withheld on ANY grounds.

    1.6 "I′m Not Prepared to Pay the Full Licence Fee as I Do Not Receive All Three SABC TV Channels"
    The Broadcasting Act does not stipulate that a TV licence is payable only if the SABC′s television signals are available from terrestrial transmitters. In some mountainous areas and deep valleys terrestrial reception is indeed extremely poor or well-nigh impossible. For that reason, all SABC services – radio and television – have been available via satellite for quite a number of years, without licence holders having been required to contribute one cent towards financing this expensive modernisation.

    It is not the SABC′s "fault" that so-called "shadow areas" exist where a normal antenna is inadequate for satisfactory reception. Neither is the SABC liable for any costs involved in installing a signal booster on a terrestrial antenna, or for erecting a satellite dish. In many areas where viewers claim that they have "no TV reception" a satisfactory picture is indeed possible with a high antenna fitted with a booster – perhaps not of ALL SABC channels, but often of one or two, plus e-tv. But, as explained, the licence fee is payable for possession of a television set – not for reception of a signal. There is also no "discount" based on the number of SABC TV channels available from terrestrial transmitters.

    1.7 "I No Longer Have a Television Set"
    Just as one cannot simply stop renewing one's vehicle licence every year and then, years later, inform the licensing authority that one "no longer owns a motorcar" or "did not own a vehicle for quite a number of years" that is not a valid excuse for defaulting on TV licence payments. For a motorcar, certain conditions have to be met before a licence is cancelled – such as that the vehicle has to be inspected by a duly authorised official, declared unfit for road use and scrapped from the register by the licensing authority. In addition, all outstanding moneys – licence arrears, penalties for late and/or non-payment, as well as traffic fines – have to be paid.

    1.8 Cancellation of a Television Licence
    Similarly, a TV licence does not "lapse" and isn′t cancelled "automatically" if a licence holder stops paying his/her licence fees. Specific procedures for cancellation of a television licence are laid down in regulations under the Broadcasting Act. A TV licence is cancelled only once ALL moneys outstanding on an account have been paid, and on receipt of an affidavit (sworn statement) indicating what has become of the television set previously in the possession of and licensed in the name of the licence holder.

    Should the set have been sold or donated as a gift, TV Licences requires the details of the new owner; should it have been stolen, the case number under which and the police station to which the theft was reported is required; should it have become permanently unserviceable we require certification thereof by a reputable repair service, and should it have been repossessed, substantiating documentary proof is needed.

    Finally, to continue with the comparison between a vehicle licence and a television licence: one isn't exempted from renewing one's motorcar licence every year on the basis of experiencing financial difficulties, being unemployed or chronically ill. Neither are these valid grounds for not paying one's annual television licence fee.
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    Default FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS: TV LICENCES & PROGRAMME ISSUES (Part 2)

    2. TV PROGRAMME ISSUES

    2.1 There is Nothing for Me to Watch on Television
    Television is a demand-driven medium. What that means is that no one can be forced to watch a particular programme or TV channel: if viewers don’t like what they see, they switch off or retune to another channel. The SABC has to screen shows with mass appeal to attract mass audiences, otherwise its viewers would simply migrate to other broad-casters such as e-tv, M-Net and the satellite service DStv, and the SABC would lose its advertising revenue.

    Popular shows are viewed by millions of people. Those numbers, in turn, attract the advertising that pays for the less popular shows (quality British, European or Australian films, wildlife and scientific series, documentaries, in-depth news/political/social/ religious/economic discussions, etc) that discerning viewers prefer. Were the SABC to cut down on the advertising that many viewers find so irritating, it would be unable to finance those programmes that they like.

    The SABC′s television channels could be compared to a single newspaper or magazine, in 11 languages, for all South Africans. In such a publication a reader would have to look for those reports or items in a language he understands and that interest him, and skip those in other languages or those of no interest to him – realising that they are intended for readers who speak different languages and whose interests differ from his. Precisely the same applies to the SABC′s television programmes serving viewers in different target audiences, from different cultures and backgrounds, who speak different languages and have divergent interests.

    2.2 The SABC Does Not Stick to Advertised Programmes
    Information on TV programmes published in newspaper supplements and magazines are provided to those publications up to six weeks before the date of broadcast to allow for delays caused by printing and distribution. Once printed, these schedules obviously can not accommodate inevitable late programme changes. That is precisely why the SABC's own monthly printed guide, Radio & TV Talk, was discontinued in December 2002 and replaced with on-screen information at regular intervals throughout the day. These schedules can be updated up to shortly before the time of broadcast and are accurate.

    2.3 Why are TV Programmes Rebroadcast?
    - Programmes are sometimes repeated by popular demand. Inevitably, large numbers of viewers cannot watch when a show is screened for the first time. When hundreds (even thousands) of requests are received for a re-broadcast, the SABC would give favourable consideration to doing so. However, a programme cannot be repeated at the request of an individual or a handful of people.

    - The SABC would also consider a rebroadcast when, as sometimes happens, a widespread power failure has caused thousands of households in a particular part of the country to miss a top movie or an episode of a mini-series. This was the case some years ago in parts of KwaZulu-Natal, and in the Western Cape.

    -Most popular "soap serials" are aired in the late afternoon/early evening when working people are still on their way home; when others are having supper or are preparing to go out for the evening. For their convenience, "soaps" are re-screened in omnibus form on weekends – over lunchtime on Saturdays, or late on Sunday mornings. Many people with little time in the evenings prefer to watch the omnibus over weekends. It also allows viewers who have missed an episode during the week to catch up.

    -When TV programmes are purchased for broadcasting, the SABC does not buy the film or video itself, but only the right to broadcast it once. For a re-broadcast further payment must be made to the distributor – a repeat broadcast is not, as some people believe, gratis and free of charge because the SABC already has the material. Re-broadcasting rights are, however, offered at a discount. Bearing in mind that even the cheapest shows (soap serials such as Days of Our Lives or The Bold and the Beautiful) cost in the region of R1 000.00 a minute, this is a financial consideration that cannot be ignored.

    2.4 Why Does SABC TV Not Cater for the Elderly?
    In terms of its mandate, the SABC has a duty to cater for the needs of all South Africans, senior citizens included. Across the spectrum of languages on all TV channels there are indeed programmes targeting senior citizens. However, with more than 50% of our population being younger than 20, the elderly constitute only a small segment of our total daily TV audience of 20 million.

    Secondly, like the general viewing public, senior citizens are also not a homogeneous group, all with similar interests and tastes – but can be divided into the same diverse language, cultural and interest groups, with equally diverse tastes. Demands that the SABC should "cater for the tastes of the elderly" would mean different things to different people – depending on the language, income and lifestyle groups they belong to.

    2.5 Why are Sound Levels of Advertisements so High?
    Advertisements broadcast on TV are not produced by the SABC but by advertising agencies commissioned by the advertisers. The SABC has strict technical standards that all advertisers need to conform to when submitting material for broadcasting. Ads for radio or TV may not be recorded at a volume above a certain prescribed level. However, advertising agencies often use a technique known as "compressed sound" or "processed audio" – resulting in an advert conforming to the technical standards of the SABC when measured, but sounding much louder than what the control room instruments register.

    Whereas not all television programmes (especially those involving speech) have sound at the maximum permitted level, advertisements do tend to use maximum volume. This contrast is usually the cause of the perceived excessive sound levels. Incidentally, this is not unique to South Africa: it is experienced world wide. British and American technicians have been trying to find a solution for years and have come up with one that is not only extremely expensive, but does not work well enough to warrant the outlay. It works on the principle that the transmission computer "reads" an advertisement and immediately reduces the volume. However, many ads are produced without processed audio, and those are then reduced to an almost inaudible level. When a real solution is found, the SABC will be sure to implement it.

    2.6 Why does the SABC no Longer Cut Offensive Scenes and Language from its Programmes?
    Since the advent of democracy in South Africa – with its guarantees of freedom of speech, of expression and of the media – broadcasters may no longer excise crude language or explicit scenes of violence or sex that might offend some viewers, as all censorship legislation has been abolished. Instead, broadcasters are required to provide clear consumer information on the content of age-restricted programmes, which must be shown late at night when younger children are in bed. Having been given due warning, viewers themselves have to decide whether or not to view such shows. Many movies do contain adult material and, by law, therefore have to be screened after 21:00.

    All broadcasters are subject to the Code of Conduct of the BCCSA (Broadcasting Complaints Commission of South Africa), an independent complaint adjudicating body of the broadcasting industry. The BCCSA does not form part of the SABC. It deals with contraventions of its Code that covers matters such as unfair comment; factually incorrect, out-of-context or biased news reporting; political coverage during election periods; excessive violence, explicit sex or crude language on TV (without the above directives having been complied with); material that could offend on religious grounds or incite to racial hatred; invasion of privacy, etc.

    This absence of State control over programme content is a logical consequence of democracy and the greater freedoms it brings. However, these freedoms also require a greater personal responsibility from every individual – in the case of a TV viewer, this means deciding which programmes one wishes to view (or would allow one′s children to view) and which ones are intended for other target audiences with other tastes and needs.

    2.7 "What do my Television Licence Fees Pay for?"
    The SABC has two connections with television licences: (1) by law the SABC is responsible for collecting licence fees and managing the TV licence system; and (2) the SABC receives TV licence revenue in order to enable it to deliver the public services demanded of it by the State.

    As the national broadcaster the SABC is mandated by the Broadcasting Act to provide compre-hensive broadcasting services (radio and television) for all South Africans, taking into account the population′s ethnic, language, cultural and religious diversity. To this end, the SABC must:
    - inform; educate and entertain its audiences;
    - support and develop culture and education; and
    - as far as is possible, ensure fair and equitable treatment for the various cultural groupings in the nation and the country.

    The SABC′s obligations to give effect to this mandate include broadcasting on radio and TV in all eleven official languages; providing a full spectrum of programming from cultural, religious and music programmes to news, sports coverage and entertainment; and making its services available countrywide with universal access as the ultimate aim. In terms of the Broadcasting Act the SABC may use TV licence revenue ONLY for these public service commitments.
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  5. #5
    Super Grandmaster HapticSimian's Avatar
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    Default Broadcasting Legislation (Part 1)

    The SABC’s activities, TV licences in particular, are governed by the Broadcasting Act and the Television Licence Regulations in terms of the Act. The Broadcasting Act, No 4 of 1999, as amended, took effect on 7 March 2003 and the Regulations in terms of the Act as from 1 January 2004.
    This legislation provides for, inter alia:
    ▪ Various types of television licence
    ▪ Television licence tariffs
    ▪ Qualifying conditions for a concessionary television licence
    ▪ Exemptions
    ▪ Reporting obligations of businesses, dealers and lessors
    ▪ Notices to the SABC

    These matters are addressed in Question & Answer format below.

    Q: Who needs a television licence?
    A: Any person or entity who has in his possession and/or uses a TV set. A licence remains payable, irrespective of whether a television set in one’s possession is used or not.

    Q: What is a television set, as defined in the Act?
    A: Any device designed or adapted to be capable of receiving a broadcast TV signal. In other words, a licence is required for a computer (PC) fitted with a TV tuner or video card, or for a videocassette recorder (VCR) or DVD player/ recorder or DStv or M-Net decoder linked to a TV monitor, or to a plasma or LCD screen. A TV licence is also required for a cell-phone capable of receiving television broadcasts.

    Q: What are the various types of television licence?
    A: There are six types:
    ▪ A domestic licence, previously a private licence, for households and/or individuals, authorising the use of the licensed set(s) at the user’s registered residential premises only;
    ▪ A concessionary domestic licence;
    ▪ A business licence, for entities (including government departments) using TV sets in their business/commercial activities or on premises occupied for business purposes;
    ▪ A dealer licence, for businesses selling TV sets;
    ▪ A lessor licence, for businesses renting out TV sets; and
    ▪ A mobile licence, for a TV set in any vehicle, caravan, mobile home, vessel or aircraft used for private purposes.

    Q: What are the annual TV licence fees?
    A: As from 1 January 2004 the licence fee is R225.00 per annum for a domestic, business, dealer, lessor or mobile television licence, and R65.00 per annum for a concessionary TV licence.

    Q: When was the last tariff increase?
    A: The licence fee was last increased on 1 January 2004 from R208.00 to R225.00 for a domestic licence and from R59.00 to R65.00 a year for a concessionary licence. The fee has now remained unchanged for five years – with TV licence revenue consequently lagging far behind the rate of inflation. [The previous increase was on 1 November 1998.]

    Q: When is a television licence payable, and for how long is a licence valid?
    A: In advance, at the beginning of each licence year. Due dates are spread over 12 months, with a licence holder’s renewal month determined by the first letter of his/her surname or, alternatively, by the month of acquisition of his/her TV set. A TV licence is valid for one year and the licensing period is stated on the licence.

    Q: How shall I know when to renew my television licence?
    A: The SABC sends out renewal notices ±2 months in advance. However, non-receipt of such notice is not an excuse for failure to renew – legally, the onus is on a licence holder to renew by the due date without any prompting from the SABC.

    Q: What do I need when renewing my licence?
    A: On renewal, one needs to present one’s existing TV licence, a copy thereof, or a renewal notice.

    Q: May one pay the licence fee in instalments?
    A: Yes – but when first applying for a TV licence, the full annual fee is payable. Thereafter, a domestic licence may be paid in monthly instalments of R23.00 per month. However, a concessionary licence will no longer be payable in monthly or quarterly instalments.

    Q: Is a television licence transferable from one licence holder to another?
    A: A TV licence is NOT transferable, EXCEPT between spouses or between “life partners” in a permanent relationship, on the death of a husband/wife or partner.

    Q: May one use someone else’s TV licence to purchase a television set?
    A: NO – one needs one’s own TV licence, unless one is a member of the household of a licence holder.

    Q: Our family has more than one television set. How many TV licences do we need?
    A: A single domestic licence is required per household, provided that:
    ▪ all sets so licensed are used at the licence holder’s residential premises;
    ▪ all sets so licensed are used by members of the family.

    Q: Who are regarded as “members of the family”?
    A: All persons who are permanently resident with the licence holder; and are dependent on him, and are owed a legal duty of support by the licence holder are covered by the single TV licence in his/her name. In other words, adult (non-dependent) children earning their own keep, parents receiving a pension or own income, and boarders and lodgers living with a family are NOT covered by the household’s domestic TV licence but are separately liable for payment of television licence fees.

    Q: Who qualifies for a concessionary domestic TV licence?
    A:One must apply to the SABC for such licence. Those who qualify are:
    ▪ a receiver of a social grant from the State, on the basis of being an aged or disabled person as defined in the Social Assistance Act of 1992;
    ▪ a person of 70 years or older, as from the beginning of the first licence year after turning 70, provided that such person does not share residential premises with any-one (other than a spouse or partner) who is younger than 70 and who is not a family member of the holder of a domestic licence. Such concessionary licence is valid only for the residential premises of the licence holder.

    Q: Does my family’s domestic TV licence cover the TV set in my caravan?
    A: No. A separate licence, known as a mobile television licence, is required for having a TV set in any vehicle, caravan, mobile home, vessel or aircraft used for private purposes. Should you have a TV set in your luxury motorcar, you need a mobile licence for it.

    Q: Does my domestic TV licence cover the TV set(s) in my holiday home?
    A: No. A separate licence at the full annual tariff of R225.00 is required for second or additional residential premises.
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    Default Broadcasting Legislation (Part 2)

    Q: What are the consequences if I fail or refuse to pay my TV licence fees?
    A: Accounts that are more than 60 days overdue are handed over to the SABC’s lawyers for debt collection. If payments are late, an account incurs a penalty of 10% per month to a maximum of 100% per annum.

    Q: What may a TV licence inspector demand of me if he visits my premises?
    A: An authorised inspector may ask you to produce your TV licence, ID document and/or TV licence account number. He/she may ask that a TV set be produced for inspection. Information such as receipt numbers, number of TV sets, addresses etc may also be requested in order to determine the validity of a licence. A business, dealer or lessor may be requested to furnish information about any transaction involving TV sets, such as sales, rental agreements, etc. Inspectors may enter any property to carry out an inspection and are authorised to do so by legislation.

    Q: What happens if I’m caught without a licence by a TV licence inspector?
    A: Anyone found in possession of a television set without a valid TV licence would be liable for payment of the prescribed annual licence fee plus a penalty of double the prescribed licence fee.

    Q: What are the legal consequences of contravening the TV licence legislation?
    A: Anyone found guilty in court of failing to comply with the law may be sentenced to a fine of R500.00 or to imprisonment for up to six months, or both. This applies to all categories of TV licence holders.

    Q: Do unmarried partners sharing a residence need separate licences if they have more than one television set?
    A: No – a single domestic TV licence is required, provided that the partners furnish the SABC with a standard cohabitants’ affidavit confirming their status as unmarried parties to a life partnership.

    Q: Are some persons or entities exempted from payment of licence fees?
    A: Yes. Public schools are exempted from the legal requirement to have a TV licence. Other educational institutions, hospitals, charitable organisations, or homes for the aged, the infirm or the disabled are not exempted. If one’s TV equipment (TV set and VCR or DVD player/recorder) has been denatured by removing its “tuner” (signal receiver), a television licence is not required.

    Q: How is a television set denatured so that a TV licence is not required?
    A: A television set is denatured by removing its “tuner”, rendering it incapable of receiving a TV signal and therefore exempt from payment of licence fees. However, a prescribed legal process must be followed. On written notification of such denaturing [with confirmation on the letterhead of a reputable TV repair shop that such denaturing has been done], an agent authorised by the SABC must verify that a set’s receiving capability has been disabled. An inspection fee of R300.00 is payable to SABC TV Licences by the licence holder, and application for exemption from payment of TV licence fees must be made three months in advance on an annual basis.

    Q: Do I still need a television licence if my set is used only to view videos? What must I do if I don’t want to pay a TV licence?
    A: Since a videocassette recorder (VCR) or a DVD player/recorder has its own built-in “tuner” it is capable of functioning as a receiver. When connected to a denatured television set (or to a TV monitor or a plasma or LCD screen) the combination constitutes equipment “capable of receiving a broadcast television signal” as defined in the Broadcasting Act and therefore requires to be licensed. If one doesn’t want to pay a licence, the SABC must be satisfied that one has no TV receiving equipment in one’s possession. Should an inspection by an authorised inspector be required to confirm this, an inspection fee of R300.00 is payable by the licence holder.

    Q: On what basis does a business entity pay for TV-sets used to conduct its business? What obligations does the Act place on them?
    A: Unlike private households, businesses pay per TV set used by them. Once a year, such businesses have to provide the SABC with an audited statement indicating the number of television sets and the period for which such sets were in their possession. Should an inspection reveal any irregularities in this regard, a business is liable for the additional TV licence fees and fines. A penalty of R300.00 per set shall also be imposed.

    Q: On what basis do dealers selling TV sets pay licence fees? What are their reporting obligations? What are the consequences of not complying?
    A: A retailer requires a single dealer (demonstration) licence, covering the TV sets on display for sale. Separate business licences are required for other sets on the premises. A dealer is required to:
    ▪ Ensure that a prospective purchaser is in possession of a valid TV licence;
    ▪ Capture a purchaser’s personal particulars (ID number, address, contact details, TV licence account number in a Dealers’ Register;
    ▪ Forward such register to the SABC on a monthly basis;
    ▪ Provide the SABC with an annual audited statement reflecting the number of sets sold during the dealers licensing year.

    A dealer selling a TV set to an unlicensed purchaser will be liable for a penalty of between R3 000 and R10 000 for each set so sold. A dealer’s failure to comply with his monthly reporting obligations to the SABC would result in a penalty of R300.00 per set for each set not reported on.

    Q: Who has to pay the licence fee for a rented TV set – the lessor or the lessee? What are the reporting obligations of lessors?
    A:A lessor (a business renting out TV sets to viewers) is liable for payment of licence fees to the SABC. The Corporation must receive a monthly report on the number of TV sets rented out, reflecting the details of lessees. After each licensing year, the number of TV sets so used must be confirmed by way of an audited statement. Penalties apply for failure to comply with the reporting obligations.

    Q: What are a licence holder’s obligations when moving to a new address?
    A: The SABC must be informed within 30 days of a change of address.

    Q: When is a TV licence no longer needed? What must one do to cancel it?
    A: One no longer requires a licence on selling or otherwise disposing of one’s TV set(s). The SABC must be notified on a prescribed form of the changed circumstances making possession of a TV licence unnecessary. No licence is cancelled while moneys are still outstanding on an account. All arrears, applicable penalties and a fine become payable if one is found in possession of a television set after cancellation of one’s licence.
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    Super Grandmaster HapticSimian's Avatar
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    Default Prescription of Debt - Television Licenses and the National Credit Act

    The issues of the National Credit Act and prescription of debt are interrelated in some respects:

    1. Television licence fees are not subject to the National Credit Act, No 34 of 2005 [NCA], which aims to protect consumers taking up credit or entering into consumer credit transactions. The SABC has not extended any credit to a TV licence holder. The NCA applies to credit extended to a person in respect of services/goods already provided, for which payment is due later – whereas the Broadcasting Act states explicitly that TV licence fees are payable in advance. Consequently, TV licence fees and penalties unpaid for three or more years do not constitute “bad debt” in terms of the NCA.

    2. Furthermore, TV licence fees are not even payment for goods or services rendered. In this regard, I refer you to Case no 64648/97, SABC vs F F Botha, judgement delivered by Magistrate H R Viana on 28/10/1999, in which the court ruled that (i) payment of TV licence fees is a statutory [legal] obligation that does not establish any contractual relationship between a licence holder and the SABC and that (ii) the only effect that a television licence has is to legalise the possession and/or use of a TV set.

    3. A television licence is not an SABC requirement but a statutory (legal) obligation in terms of the Broadcasting Act, No 4 of 1999, as amended, and the Television Licence Regulations under the Act. In a nutshell, this legislation stipulates the following:

    ▪ No person may have in his possession and/or use a TV set without having a valid (paid-up) licence issued by the SABC against payment of the prescribed fee. The licence fee remains payable regardless of what a TV set is used for, or whether it is used at all. Ownership of a TV set is irrelevant – whoever has it in his possession is liable for payment of a television licence.
    ▪ Regardless of whether or not a television set is used, a TV licence remains payable as long as one has a set in one’s possession.
    The Broadcasting Act does not allow for any licence holder demands having to be met by the SABC before a licence becomes payable; neither does it provide for a refusal to pay or the withholding of licence fees for any reason whatsoever.
    ▪ Although the SABC is required by law to forward renewal notices to TV licence holders, the Broadcasting Act states explicitly that late or non-receipt of such notification is not a valid reason for late or non-payment of one’s licence fees.
    A television licence is renewable before or on the renewal date. A penalty of 10% of the annual licence fee is levied for every month or part thereof that payment is received late, to a maximum of 100% per annum. If a person is found in possession of a TV set but without a licence, the annual fee plus a 200% penalty is payable.
    ▪ A television licence holder must give written notice of an address change to the SABC within 30 days of such change.
    ▪ If cancellation of a TV licence is applied for on the basis of a licence holder no longer having a television set, written notice of the disposal of such set has to be given to the SABC within 30 days of the end of the licence holder’s current licence year. Particulars of how the licensed set has been disposed of [and who is the new owner of the set] must be provided by way of an affidavit.
    Failure to comply with any of the provisions of the Broadcasting Act and the TV Licence Regulations is a criminal offence for which a court of law may impose a fine of up to R500.00 or not more than six months imprisonment, or both.

    4. Some defaulters believe that TV licence fees that have been outstanding for three or more years constitute “old debt” that has automatically lapsed owing to prescription. However, debt prescription after three years in terms of the Prescription Act, No 68 of 1969 is neither automatic nor unconditional but subject to specific conditions relating to the actions of both debtor and creditor. The television licence documentation – renewal notices, account statements, reminders, notices of handover of an overdue account for debt collection, and letters of demand – mailed to the holder of an overdue account by the SABC and/or its lawyers can leave him in no doubt that the Corporation believes that moneys are outstanding on the account.

    5. Should such documentation not have reached a defaulter because the SABC had not been notified of an address change such failure is in itself a contravention of the Broadcasting Act.

    6. Failure or a refusal to pay one’s TV licence fees involves two elements: (i) the civil matter of an overdue account; in other words, moneys consisting of unpaid licence fees and penalties owing to the SABC; and (ii) criminal contravention of the Broadcasting Act. By his own admission, a defaulter pleading debt prescription is confirming non-payment of television licence fees for the period in question. Instead of focusing on the issue of moneys owing on a TV licence account the SABC could therefore decide to lay a criminal charge of contravention of the Broadcasting Act. If found guilty, the court will blacklist a defaulter with the credit bureaux and he will have a criminal record. A “guilty” finding would also result in such person becoming liable for payment of all outstanding TV licence moneys – plus the SABC’s legal costs – over and above any fine imposed by the court.
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    Super Grandmaster HapticSimian's Avatar
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    Alriiiiiighty then, let the battle commence...
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    Default

    What's your point? Whether you are paying a license fee for the honour of owning and operating a tv or whether you are paying the SABC for content - the money is still going to them and they have a fiduciary duty not to waste, corrupt and generally manage like complete morons.

    They fark up, but wait, hey, why not increase the "license fee" to counter-balance their ineptitude and miss-management.

    Sorry, I didn't read your whole post, maybe I'm barking up the wrong tree

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    Nice thread enigma243, I am with you on this one.

    I do have a gripe about the selective enforcement of this ACT.

    Forgive me if this is not politically correct, but it would appear that it appears that the suburbs are targeted much more vigorously than the informal settlements by TV licence inspectors.

    Are we easier targets?
    There is a fine line between bravery and stupidity

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    I dont give a rats arrse what ther legislation says. The SABC is waisting my money and I will not pay anymore license fees until I feel differently. As I explained to them they are welcome to send someone around to disable my television's ability to receive signals.
    "The greatest shortcoming of the human race is our inability to understand the exponential function." - Dr. Albert Bartlett

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    You need a new hobby
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    Super Grandmaster HapticSimian's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SiriS View Post
    What's your point? Whether you are paying a license fee for the honour of owning and operating a tv or whether you are paying the SABC for content - the money is still going to them and they have a fiduciary duty not to waste, corrupt and generally manage like complete morons.

    They fark up, but wait, hey, why not increase the "license fee" to counter-balance their ineptitude and miss-management.

    Sorry, I didn't read your whole post, maybe I'm barking up the wrong tree
    You are a little - the SABC only acts as point of collection for tv licenses. From there the money goes to the government at large, from where a percentage is reapportioned to the SABC.

    You are one of the people that suffer under the misconception that the fees go to them in its entirety, whilst this is simply not true. Regardless of your opinion, it does not release you from your obligation under the law.
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  15. #15

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    As South Africa′s national broadcaster the SABC is mandated to provide comprehensive broadcasting services (radio and television) for all South Africans, taking into account their ethnic, language, cultural and religious diversity. To this end, the SABC is legally obliged to –
    - inform;
    - educate;
    - entertain;
    - support and develop culture and education; and
    - as far as is possible, ensure fair and equitable treatment for the various cultural groupings in the nation and the country.
    It is noble that you are loyal to someone who employed your father. Just because something is a statutory requirement does not mean people have to agree with it.

    If this broadcaster decided to do their job then they would not have to rely on the little lisc fees but could rather get a lot more than this through advertising fees.

    Compare the SABC to BBC or ABC (Australian equivalent to BBC ) and you will see what is possible.

    To make matters worse we have a bunch of incompetent and corrupt officials running this broadcaster - no wonder the public does not support the lisc fees!

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