SABC won't do away with TV licences – board chair

There is no way the SABC will do away with TV licences, as it is the public broadcaster's second-biggest revenue stream, board chairperson Bongumusa Makhathini has said.

Makhathini and other SABC executives on Tuesday briefed Parliament's portfolio committee on communications on the public broadcaster's turnaround strategy.

During a question and answer session, the SABC executive team was asked to weigh in on TV licences, amid suggestions that the organisation might increase tariffs.

Newly appointed acting Chief Operations Officer Sylvia Tladi said that the SABC had approached the Department of Communications at the end of 2018, seeking to increase TV licence tariffs. However, the broadcasting act indicates that only the minister can approve a tariff increase, and no such decision has yet been made.

"There is no tariff increase right now, as we speak," said Tladi.

Makhathini further explained that TV licences account for 15% of the SABC's revenue stream. This is the second-biggest revenue stream for the broadcaster.

Advertising and sponsorships, meanwhile, account for more than 80% of the SABC's total revenue stream. The SABC further relies on revenue from government, roughly R200m, but this is for "specific things', Makhathini said.

He suggested that 72c per day is not expensive, and that South Africans could pay at least R1 towards the SABC given that the it provides 19 radio stations and five TV channels and plays a critical mandate in educating, informing and entertaining the general public.

"The truth is, we need the fees to be paid. It is important for us to get your support. TV licences are critical," he told members of Parliament.

The minority of South Africa's TV licence holders are up to date with their fees, according to the SABC.

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