Advanced Television

Analyst: South Africa TV licence plan unworkable

January 11, 2021

South Africa is looking to charge users a full television licence fee if they view programming on their phones or laptops. The plan includes viewing of OTT content from the likes of Netflix.

Public comments have until February 15th to be logged.  One public forum, ‘Dear South Africa’, says it has already logged 34,000 comments with 32,851 objecting to the scheme.

Political analyst Ralph Mathekga said: “This proposal goes against the whole deregulation process, and logistically the plan looks like it can never work. They should know that TV viewing has evolved a great deal. A lot has happened, including how content is delivered, and SABC has not innovated to keep up.”

“Today we have Smart TVs, and these do not rely on terrestrial channels. You can stream series and films and never once have to watch SABC,” added Mathekga.

Political party Cosatu’s provincial secretary, Malvern de Bruyn, said: “The proposals, if they ever come to be, will be difficult to implement. I don’t think it’s practical. How will people with phones that cannot access the internet be treated? It will be a mammoth task to convince them to pay for something they cannot make use of.”

Economist Mike Schussler, quoted by local press, said: “That is another tax and it would mean many poor people would have an added cost to their phone calls. This is not a wise idea. The current R28 per month fee would add at least 10 percent to about half of all cell-phone subscribers costs. That would defeat the object of cheaper data etc.”

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