Broadcaster wants you to pay for TV on your tablet

The SABC wants the Broadcasting Act changed so that those watching TV via their electronic devices can be charged a TV licence fee.

The shock proposal was made by acting chief executive James Aguma in parliament yesterday while presenting a corporate plan for the 2017-18 financial year to the communications portfolio committee.

The cash-strapped SABC is scrambling to find new revenue streams amid plummeting audience rates that are repelling advertisers who previously used to spend hundreds of million of rands buying airtime.

Aguma urged MPs to support his idea for amending the Broadcasting Act so that those viewing SABC programmes via electronic devices like cellphones‚ tablets and laptops could be brought into the SABC revenue stream. He believed most TV licence non-payers might be brought into the net through such an amendment.

People were viewing content on various platforms, yet the act only referred to television‚ he said.

“[We need to] reach as many audiences as possible – viewers consuming content on multiple devices.”

In terms of the broadcasting law‚ anyone owning a TV set that receives a public broadcast signal is compelled to pay an annual licence fee.

But faced with a credibility loss‚ citizens are increasingly reluctant to pay the fee, especially since the advent of digital pay-TV platforms.

Aguma said: “The SABC [is seeking this] to ensure that it accelerates [its] presence in the digital media [so] that we can have advertising revenue from TV‚ radio and also digital offerings.”

Babalo Ndenze and Bianca Capazorio

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