Plan to replace TV licence with a levy whether you watch telly or not, says SABC

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Barbara Friedman

198 days ago
Plan to replace TV licence with a levy whether you watch telly or not, says SABC Copyright : Piotr Adamowicz / 123rf

The Sunday Times reports that the SABC plans to implement an annual household levy of R265 on the eight million households in its TV licence billing system with a resulting haul of R2 billion a year for the public broadcaster.

This annual levy would replace the current TV licence.

Bird explains that the information reported in The Sunday times is taken from a SABC submission Parliament, as part of a pubic process requesting input on the draft white policy paper

The policy paper deals with a whole range of things and it is really important because we have not had an update to our media policy for over two decades.

William Bird, Director - Media Monitoring Africa

He says this will see some big changes being proposed in these papers, as 20 years ago when this was last done, the media and technology environment was vastly different.

This issue in particular speaks to the sustainability of a public broadcaster.

Whether you use their services or you don't, what we do know from various studies around the world...in a democracy, where you have a trusted credible public broadcaster, trust and credibility of media overall improve.

William Bird, Director - Media Monitoring Africa

Having a credible public broadcaster is linked to having a sustainable democratic state, he suggests.

So the question comes is if you accept that, then how do you fund that?

William Bird, Director - Media Monitoring Africa

The problem in South Africa is where it has become a commercial broadcaster, but a the same time fulfills a public mandate, he says.

It is caught between two very difficult spaces because it means it cannot necessarily produce the kind of programming that it needs.

William Bird, Director - Media Monitoring Africa

So now with so many people accessing digital devices for their news and entertainment, they are talking about moving away from the traditional TV licence to something broader.

What we call in our submission a public information levy, and that is effectively a way of making sure that you can fund a sustainable public broadcaster because you need to at the same time, think of this in relation to the sustainability of the media sector as a whole.

William Bird, Director - Media Monitoring Africa

Because in as much as the SABC is in crisis, all of our media companies with very few exceptions, are really struggling and as we become more digital...we need to find models now to find out how media is going to survive.

William Bird, Director - Media Monitoring Africa

Kineo questions this and says perhaps media houses need to rethink their business models.

This effectively is a tax in a country where people are already taxed to the hilt.

Kieno Kammies, Presenter - CapeTalk

Kineo says the SABC needs to get its business right before it comes for our money.

Listen to William Bird's interview in the audio below:

This article first appeared on CapeTalk : Plan to replace TV licence with a levy whether you watch telly or not, says SABC

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