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SABC demands TV license fees for computers and laptops

laptops must have tv license

The SABC reports that South Africans are currently required to pay TV license fees for computer monitors, even if they are not using those devices to watch TV, IOL reports.

According to Mybroadband, the public broadcaster notified viewers via an email notice for the annual TV Licence Renewal Notice.

An idea to charge TV license fees for any device that could connect to the internet, including smartphones, was briefly considered but later dropped. As of right now, notices have been sent out.

According to the notice for this year, a TV monitor (without receiving capabilities) that is connected to any television receiving equipment is considered to be a TV set and is therefore included in the definition of a TV.

The broadcaster stated that the receiving apparatus could be a “PC, DVD [player], or digital box/decoder.”

Gugu Ntuli, an executive for corporate affairs and marketing at the SABC, claimed that the letter made reference to TV monitors linked to TV receiving hardware.

The television broadcast signal transmitted by such receiving equipment (STB, decoder, tuner, etc.) causes the TV monitor to appear to be a TV, according to a quote from Ntuli.

‘License fees must be paid for your DVD player

It is claimed that the SABC’s letter specifically mentioned a DVD player and a computer as examples of TV receiving equipment, despite the fact that neither of these devices has this built-in ability, which makes it possible for license holders to mistakenly interpret the term “digital box” as a streaming box without broadcast-receiving functionality.

The broadcaster was contacted again by the online publication, but by the time the article was published, it had not responded.

Outa CEO Wayne Duvenage said in an interview with the publication that the SABC’s decision to add monitors was incorrect and appeared to be opportunistic in its search for “ailing” TV license revenue.

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Duvenage was quoted as saying, “They had plans to amend the Act to include screens and computers that didn’t have television receiving capabilities, but I’m not sure this was done, and if it had been, it would have been vigorously contested in court.”

Why pay to watch TV?

In South Africa, a TV license is also a legal requirement for individuals or households who wish to watch television broadcasts. The license fee is used to fund the South African Broadcasting Corporation.

The TV license fee in South Africa is currently set at R265 per year for households, with reduced fees available for senior citizens and people with disabilities. The license is required for any device used to receive television broadcasts, including TVs, computers, tablets, and mobile phones.

SABC logo

Failure to obtain a TV license where required can result in fines or legal action, and TV license inspectors are authorized to visit households to check if a license is in place. It’s important to note that it is a public broadcaster and, as such, some of its programming is available to all viewers for free, regardless of whether a license has been obtained.

The South African Broadcasting Corporation has faced a number of challenges in recent years that have impacted its operations and reputation. Here are some of the issues:

  1. Financial challenges: It has faced financial difficulties due to declining revenue from advertising and a high-cost structure, leading to difficulties in paying salaries, operating costs, and servicing debt.
  2. Declining viewership: The SABC has faced declining viewership as audiences have shifted to other media platforms, including digital and streaming services. This has led to a decline in advertising revenue, which has further worsened its financial challenges.
  3. Competition from other media: It faces increasing competition from other media providers, including private broadcasters and online streaming services. This has put pressure on SABC to adapt and innovate in order to remain relevant and competitive in the market.

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