Television Licences

Well, we can’t have it all ways. Our national broadcaster’s television channels have nauseating amounts of commercials, but we (are supposed to) pay only about 70 cents per day in licence fees, so there must be some trade off. The revenue SABC earned from broadcasting advertisements in 2014 was R3.6 billion.1

Actually, although several countries2 have no licence fees at all, South Africa has one of the cheapest TV licences in the world. The UK, for example, is about R7 per day; Sweden is nearly R9 per day.3 But, in the UK, the national broadcaster BBC carries no advertising.

In terms of the Broadcasting Act 1999, the South African Broadcasting Corporation is authorised to issue licences for the use of a television set. The Act falls under the authority of the Minister of Telecommunications and Postal Services.

  1. It is a criminal offence to use a television set unless you are in possession of a valid licence. Or, if you rent the television, you must have written confirmation to this effect from the hire company.4

  2. Every business which uses a television set must have a licence, keep to the conditions of the licence, and be able to produce such licence on demand from an inspector – otherwise it commits an offence.5

  3. No person may sell or rent out television sets if he is not in possession of a licence to do so, and can produce such licence if requested by an inspector.6

  4. It is a criminal offence for a dealer to sell or give or loan a television set to anyone who does not have a valid licence.7

  1. In October 2019 it was reported that SABC’s TV licence revenue for the previous financial year in 2018 was R968 million.

  2. United States, Canada, Australia, Spain, The Netherlands, Brazil, Russia, India and China – – ‘How TV licence fees compare around the world’. 

  3. Ibid

  4. Section 27(5)(a) read with section 27(1)(a)(i),(ii) and (iii). 

  5. Section 27(5)(a) read with section 27(1)(b)(i), (ii) and (iii). 

  6. Section 27(5)(a) read with section 27(4). 

  7. Section 27(5)(a) read with section 27(4).