When we wrote about SABC’s upcoming streaming service we touched on the fact that SABC and the Ministry of Communications want South Africans to pay their TV Licence for digital services like Netflix, Showmax and DStv (Satellite).
In that article, I mentioned the fact that in the UK people must have TV licences in order to actually stream live TV digitally and that South Africa might use the “relatively” new regulations in these countries to justify changing their regulation.
Well, SABC has come out and explained that the issue is to do with the fact that the regulation in South Africa is simply too old;
We are of the view that the regulation is outdated. Bear in mind that the Broadcasting Act was last amended in 1999, whereas the TV licence regulations are 16 years old. In that time, there has been a significant development in the manner in which content is being consumed.
We cannot play in the media environment as much as everyone else is doing because the legislation is outdated.SABC Head of TV Licences Sylvia Tladi
The Head of TV Licences also described how this collection would work and it’s a bit different from what people were suggesting would happen on social media;
With regards to the likes of Netflix, what we are talking about here is streaming services, and what we are looking at is that where streaming services are available in the market and people are able to stream SABC’s content, there needs to be valid or paid-up TV Licence. We are not saying they should physically go out there and collect; we are looking at a process of making sure that there is compliance.
For example, instead of saying Netflix collect TV Licence fees, there are various ways of doing it. We can negotiate with the streaming service about a percentage of whatever people are streaming that is content which belongs to the SABC.
From the description above it does sound like if implemented there will be a price increase to a number of services like Showmax and Netflix as they’ll have to give a percentage of what they earn to the SABC.
If the regulation effected though you can imagine our own Government coming up with similar tactics. Whilst there was a lot of outcry regarding this when it was first announced, TV licences are a way of government to make revenue and since these services are being consumed by citizens I can understand why governments would want to update legislation to tax those consuming digital services.
Maybe the outcry in South Africa is warranted because the citizens have seen the government abuse funds and thus the enthusiasm to pay taxes in such a setup is pretty low.