The Department of Communications and Digital Technologies is set to present its proposal to extend the payment of TV licence fees to include streaming services like Netflix as of 25 November 2020.
The Broadcasting Act currently requires South Africans to pay a TV licence fee for viewing “broadcasting services”. South Africans are also not allowed to buy a television without a TV licence, a requirement that is enforced by retailers.
Failure to be in possession of a valid television licence when owning a television and watching broadcasting services is a civil offence. Any person who fails pay their TV License is committing an offence and is liable, upon conviction in a criminal court, to a fine not exceeding R500 in relation to each offence and/or to imprisonment for a period not exceeding six months.
As it currently stands, the definition of “broadcasting services” applies to content viewed on a television. The department now wants to broaden the definition of a “broadcasting service” to include online broadcasting services.
If this proposal goes through, it means that people will require a TV licence to watch streaming services like Netflix, Apple +, Showmax, and Amazon Prime.
This is part of an attempt to increase TV licence revenue and compliance, which has come under pressure over the past few years.
The SABC’s annual report for the 2019/2020 financial year revealed that less than a quarter of TV licences were paid over last year. This is due to the mass migration from traditional television to streaming services.
This new implementation however does come with a few concerns. One major concern being that if you are subscribed to multiple streaming services for example Netflix, HBO and Prime Video, this new regulation is unclear on if you will be paying one fee as a end user or multiple TV License fees for every subscription registered to you.
Have your say about TV licence fees
The TV licence fee proposal is contained in the Draft White Paper on Audio and Audio-visual Content Services Policy Framework: A New Vision for South Africa 2020.
This draft white paper is open for public comment until the end of the month (16:00 on 30 November 2020).
Comments can be sent to the acting Director-General of the Department of Communications and Digital Technologies via email – firstname.lastname@example.org.
The full Draft White Paper on Audio and Audio-visual Content Services Policy Framework is embedded below.
Information and Documentation sourced from My Broadband.