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SABC struggles with unpaid licences

July 10, 2023

By Chris Forrester

South Africa’s public broadcaster SABC is suffering a massive shortfall in funding because of unpaid TV licences. The country is looking at a new funding model for SABC.

A question was raised in the South African parliament as to how much is owed to SABC.

The country’s communications minister Mondli Gungubele responded saying that there were 9.2 million unpaid accounts, and this represented Rand 44.2 billion (€2.15bn) in unpaid fees.

Some 5.6 million of these accounts have been handed over to debt collectors, he said. The annual fee is currently Rand 265.

The numbers confirm that most South Africans do not pay the annual fee. SABC says that it has about 10.5 million registered accounts for the licence. SABC says that about 81.7 per cent of people are not paying for their TV signals.

Gungubele added that his ministry would “continuously engage with the SABC and national treasury to examine the options for the necessary reform and enhancement required … to properly provide for the funding requirements of SABC and the most appropriate collection [and] enforcement systems, and a timeframe for implementation.”

The Minister said a new bill approved by cabinet last year will provide for a new “household fee model” But there remain doubts that a new name for the licence fee will tempt South Africans to pay an annual fee.

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