Fee-starved SABC says it solved hack on its payment site

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The SABC building in Auckland Park in Johannesburg, South Africa.
The SABC building in Auckland Park in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Veli Nhlapo
  • The South African Broadcasting Corporation says it has resolved the security breach and hacking on its TV license website.
  • It apologised to the public for the "unfortunate incident".
  • The breach was a blow for the broadcaster, which has been battling to collect TV licence fees.

The South African Broadcasting Corporation has resolved the security breach and hacking it picked up on its TV license website on Thursday evening, it said on Friday.

"The South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) is pleased to announce that the hack of its TV license website has been resolved. 

"The SABC is committed to safeguarding the privacy of its clients’ details and will be taking further measures in this regard. The public broadcaster once again apologises to the public for this unfortunate incident," the SABC said in a statement.

The interruption was a blow for the broadcaster, which is relying on boosting television license payments to increase revenues. It has been working towards increasing compliance, which is currently low. 

In its initial announcement on Thursday, the SABC said the problem had been identified and was being dealt with, urging license holders not to place their personal information on the site.

"This problem has been prioritised and being dealt with the urgency it deserves by the corporation's media and technology infrastructure division.

"The SABC would like to appeal to the public not to leave their personal details on the website until this matter is resolved. We apologise for the inconvenience this has caused," the statement said.

The SABC's 2019/20 annual report said 68 093 new television license holders paid licence fees for the first time during the period, while 2.5 million license holders settled their fees against a known database of 9.5 million, indicating an evasion rate of 81%.

"The SABC was able to realise only 19% of the total license fees billed during the 2019/20 financial year, lower than the previous period of 31%. Collection cost rate was lower at 4%, from 2019's 12%," the report said.

The annual report said lower collection cost was due to the absence of debt collection agencies that were only contracted in October 2019, which contributed to the marked decline in license fee revenues.

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