James Aguma. Picture: THE TIMES
James Aguma. Picture: THE TIMES

The SABC wants the Broadcasting Act to be changed so that those watching TV via electronic devices can be charged a TV licence fee.

The shock proposal was made by acting CEO James Aguma in Parliament on Wednesday while presenting a corporate plan for the 2017-18 financial year to the portfolio committee on communications.

The cash-strapped SABC is scrambling to find new revenue streams amid plummeting audience rates that are repelling advertisers who used to spend hundreds of million of rand buying airtime space.

Aguma urged MPs to support his idea so that those viewing SABC programmes via devices, such as cellphones‚ tablets and laptops, could be brought into the SABC revenue stream. He believed a majority of non-payers of TV licences may be brought into the net by changing the Broadcasting Act.

People are viewing content on different platforms, yet the Act only refers to TV‚ he said: "[We need to] reach as many audiences as possible ... [such as] viewers consuming content on multiple devices."

In terms of the current broadcasting law‚ anyone owning TV set that receives a public broadcast signal is compelled to pay an annual licence fee, but faced with a credibility loss‚ citizens are increasingly reluctant to pay the licence fee, especially since the advent of digital pay-TV platforms such as DStv.

"The SABC has put, as one of its objectives, the radical move to ensure that it accelerates in presence in the digital media, such that we can have advertising revenue from TV‚ radio and also the digital offerings‚" Aguma said.

TMG Digital

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