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DStv-owner MultiChoice has opposed proposed changes to TV licences in South Africa which would see it take a more active role in levy collections, News24 reports.

The South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) wants to ‘redefine’ TV licences in South Africa and has recommended the introduction of a household levy to help stabilise its finances.

This levy would be imposed on all households and is based on the possibility of access to SABC services, rather than the actual usage of its services.

The national broadcaster said that dominant subscription broadcasters – such as MultiChoice’s DStv – should be required to collect the public broadcasting household levy from its subscribers on the state-owned broadcaster’s behalf.

However, MultiChoice has warned that it is not its role to collect TV licences for the national broadcaster, and that other bodies are much better placed to collect the household levy.

MultiChoice’s head of policy analysis, research, and regulatory affairs, Aynon Doyle said that an effective revenue collector such as the South African Revenue Service (SARS) would be best placed to assist the SABC with collecting TV licence fees.

“No changes globally have attempted to shift revenue collection to the private sector on the part of public service broadcasters. If SARS collected in 2019 there would have been a significant difference in what would have been collected,” said Doyle.

The SABC expects to face continued issues around TV licence collections for the near future, as South Africans refuse to pay their fees.

In an August presentation, the national broadcaster said that the TV Licence cash revenue collected during Q4 20/21 was R200.7 million against a budget of R293.7 million – resulting in a R92.9 million (32%) shortfall against budget.

The SABC’s Q4 results cover the period between 1 January and 31 March 2021.

“In comparison to Q3 (R278.3 million), there was a decrease of R77.6 million (27.9%) in Q4,” it said. “There was, however, a year-on-year increase of R40.8 million (25.5%) in TV Licence revenue, a commendable improvement considering the economic constraints.”

The financial data shows that the SABC failed to meet almost all of its licence targets across the board:

  • Renewals’ revenue stream for the quarter was below budget by R65.8 million (YTD: R14 million);
  • New licences were below budget by R13.7 million (YTD: R1.3 million);
  • Debt collection was R13.4 million below the budget (YTD: above budget by R4.2 million).