The South African government is wanting to make changes to TV licence fees to include a fee for those who stream services off of the internet, including Netflix…

Outraged by the proposal, the DA set up a petition to garner opposition to the proposed changes. The party believes that the struggling SABC should find alternative, “creative ways to self-sustain and break even without making people fork out any MORE money.”

“The public has already had to suffer the consequences of the billions in bailouts the SABC has received via the public purse,” says the party’s shadow minister of communications and digital technologies Zakhele Mbhele.

Mbhele told All4Women that the party had submitted the online petition opposing the expansion of TV licence fees to include streaming services to the Department of Communications and Digital Technologies.

“The next step would be for the Department to review, consider and incorporate all submissions in order to produce a revised draft of the White Paper which contains that proposal and then publicise the revised version for further comment/input.”

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“A White Paper, as a government policy paper, is usually the foundation for a Bill, so the expectation is that it would inform amendments to the Broadcasting Act, according to that policy framework, however the Department has given no indication of a timeframe for bringing that draft legislation to Parliament for deliberation and processing.”

What the law currently says:

The current law states that you must pay a TV licence fee for viewing “broadcasting services”, which includes subscription services like DSTV.

When you buy a TV, regardless of whether you watch SABC content on it or not, you must pay a licence fee for any “broadcasting services.”

In the “traditional” sense a “broadcasting service” is limited to content viewed on a TV set.

What government proposes:

Given the emergence of streaming services like Netflix, Apple +, Showmax, Amazon Prime and others, the Department of Communications and Digital Technologies proposes broadening the definition of a “broadcasting service” to include online broadcasting services.

This means that you would have to pay a licence fee for watching any “broadcasting services”, including streaming services, regardless of whether it’s on a TV, a computer or a phone.

Read the full proposal:

You can read the Department of Communications and Digital Technologies’ full proposal, in the Draft White Paper on Audio and Audio-visual Content Services Policy Framework: A New Vision for South Africa 2020, here.

The DA’s campaign is not the only petition opposing the proposed changes. The Dear South Africa publication also launched a petition which has since received 37661 signatures.

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