Because there truly is absolutely no rest for the wicked – not only does the SABC want tougher enforcement of TV license compliance, they want to see the cost of the licenses re-assessed (read: increased, my beloveds) from R 265 per year.
In a paper presented last week at the SA Public Broadcasting Policy Review Colloquium, the public broadcaster, via its chairperson Bongumusa Makhithini, essentially had the below to say about the current state of affairs in South African TV licensing and public broadcasting:
Of the 9 million license holders on file, there are only 1,8 million license-paying accounts
At an effective cost of 72 (I say 73 if we round up) cents per day – consumers are paying far too little for their licenses
The definition of a television set should be expanded from the current definition, to include “all receiving devices and apparatus that are capable of receiving television broadcasts over the broadcasting radio frequency spectrum”
There needs to be a crackdown on compliance at the point of sale and for pay-TV providers (hello Netflix, our old friend)
What all of this furore boils down to is – whether you want to call it capitalism or a vested interest in retaining jobs and having a robust public broadcast provider or extorting people who don’t even listen to or watch this stuff anyway – the procurement of Madibas. This year the SABC expects to write-off upwards of R2 billion due to uncollected license fees. This isn’t an anomaly – year on year the public broadcaster makes less money from TV licenses while the number of TVs and other receiving devices being bought and operated in the country increases.
There’s certainly something to be said about the culture of non-payment faced by the country’s various public enterprises, from Eskom to SABC. However, it’s probably going to take more than toughening enforcement and raising prices to get people to start coughing up their 73 cents per day.