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TV licences for streaming and mobile? Here's what SA thinks of SABC's plan

22 October 2020 - 12:47 By unathi nkanjeni
The SABC wants help from DStv operator MultiChoice and Netflix to collect licence fees.
The SABC wants help from DStv operator MultiChoice and Netflix to collect licence fees.

The SABC's latest proposal that would require streaming services such as Netflix and DStv to collect TV licences on behalf of the broadcaster has met with a cold reception.

Deputy communications minister Pinky Kekana presented the draft proposal this week to parliament’s portfolio committee on communications. The proposal is open for public opinion until November 30.

Kekana said the standard definition of a TV licence needed to be updated to better fit an environment where more people were migrating to online media. She said the proposal would essentially expand the current TV licence system to include other devices and not only TVs.

“We are looking at urgent policy and legislation reforms, including engaging with those who carry SABC programmes on their pay-TV,” said Kekana.

“It should be ‘must carry, must pay’, but also to say how they can help us collect TV licence fees. We are not only limiting it to TV, we also have other platforms where people consume content.”

Kekana said the SABC may also start requiring TV licences for other devices such as smartphones and laptops.

“How do we, through Icasa [the Independent Communications Authority of SA], make sure that they too are able to assist us to collect TV licences but we are not only limiting it to TV? We also have other platforms where people consume content - and in all of those areas, that is where we should look at how we are able to get SABC licence fees from those gadgets,” said Kekana.

How much is a TV licence? 

According to the SABC, first-time applicants for a TV licence must pay a full annual fee of R265. Renewals must be made annually before the licence expires and these payments can be spread throughout the year at R28 per month.

Monthly payments are subject to “a small premium” for the convenience, therefore bringing the total cost for the year to R336.

Forgetting to renew your TV licence means a penalty of 10% per month to a maximum of 100% per annum.

How much is Netflix?

Netflix has three plans for SA viewers, ranging from R99 to R169 per month.

For the standard service, the package costs R99 per month. For R139 per month, viewers can stream content on their smartphones and TV at the same time in high-definition (HD).

The premium package costs R169, and allows for HD and ultra HD viewing and offers four simultaneous streams, meaning four different people can use one Netflix account on four different devices at the same time.


Many on social media, including DA MP Phumzile Van Damme, said they were against the proposal. She also urged people to submit their views to the government and not on Twitter.

Here is a snapshot of some of the reactions: