The ruling party vowed to scrap the embattled public broadcaster’s contentious TV licence fee and replace it with a hefty tax.
This is according to Communications Minister, Khumbudzo Ntshavheni, who addressed the media in her capacity as a member of the ANC. She provided feedback on the ANC’s national policy conference which took place over the weekend.
“The TV licence arrangement is not working, it is actually impacting on the SABC’s ability to survive,” said Ntshaveni, adding that the public broadcaster must be strengthened.
“The SABC has both a commercial mandate and a public mandate.
“In the public mandate, we want the SABC to be funded from the national fiscus, but we are also proposing a household levy,” she said.
The SABC is no stranger to this idea as it had earlier recommended that a levy be charged on all households based on the possibility of access to its services, rather than the actual use of its services.
In its annual performance plan, published in May, the broadcaster outlined its plans to introduce a new tax to replace the TV licence fee.
The SABC also believes that the money for the proposed levy should be collected by MultiChoice.
However, the Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (Outa) believes this will be problematic.
"An annual grant to the SABC from the fiscus can be used to cover at least part of the SABC's costs. This will provide a more stable income stream and, in conjunction with good management, avoid the irregular and disastrous bailouts,“ the organisation said.
According to Outa, TV licenses are actually just another tax and must be handled as such, rather than a decision on the licence fee being taken by a single minister.
The SABC's annual report for 2019-20 pointed out that only 2.5 million licenses were paid from a database of 9.5 million licence holders, which produced an income of R791 million.