In a slap in the face to existing TV licence holders, the SABC has excluded people who renewed their licence before 1 September 2023 from entering a viewer’s competition with a prize worth a whopping R300 000.
The competition aims to entice people to renew and pay their TV licences.
A television viewer with a fully paid-up TV licence, who did not want to be named, was highly peeved at being ineligible to enter the competition.
“I have always been a law-abiding citizen and always pay my TV licence at the beginning of the year.
“To be excluded from entering this competition is obviously not right and does not make sense, but it’s in keeping with the way in which these [state] institutions are being run,” he said.
Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (Outa) CEO Wayne Duvenage said on Wednesday the SABC is “shooting itself in the foot” by excluding existing TV licence holders from the competition.
“That’s not a clever strategy,” he said.
Plans in progress
SABC acting group executive: corporate affairs and marketing Mmoni Seapolelo said the aim of the latest TV licences competition is to increase sales and brand awareness among new/potential and licence-renewal clients.
“This is the first of its kind competition for TV Licences, and there are plans in progress that will benefit compliant licence holders,” she said.
In terms of the rules of the competition, only television viewers over 18 who have not yet paid or renewed their TV licence or people wishing to register for a new TV licence may enter. Such viewers must pay their licence between 1 September 2023 and 1 December 2023 to participate in the competition.
Read/listen: Is cash-strapped SABC heading for a bailout?
However, a SABC media statement provided a different closing date for the competition. It said the competition, launched on 1 September 2023, and closes on 15 December 2023.
The main prize in the competition is an all-expenses-paid trip for two worth R300 000 to attend either a Bundesliga soccer match in Germany or the world’s largest arts and music festival, Coachella, in Palm Springs, California, in the US.
Viewers will also be eligible to win weekly prizes, which include electronic sets, devices, airtime and data.
The SABC statement said: “This viewer’s competition aims to ignite excitement and encourage TV licence renewals or new purchases while offering ‘valued’ customers a chance to win these unforgettable prizes.”
The SABC has experienced problems for many years with the collection of TV licence fees and, in 2021, proposed the replacement of the TV licence with a new household tax that municipalities would collect.
It is believed it has abandoned this proposal.
Seapolelo highlighted the TV licence fee collection problem confronting the SABC in response to a number of questions emailed to the corporation by Moneyweb.
Read: SABC wants ‘household levy’ to fund public broadcasting
She said TV licence fees are levied annually, and collections are undertaken monthly from licence holders.
Seapolelo said 19.4% of TV licences registered on the SABC’s database during the 2022/23 financial year were fully paid or making payments.
That means the SABC had a TV licence fee evasion rate of 80.6% in this period.
“In circumstances where compliance rates on our database would be 100%, the potential revenue would amount to R2.9 billion.
“However, revenue collected from registered licence holders is under R1 billion.
“TV licence fees are collected to enable the SABC to fulfil its mandate as a public broadcaster. Non-payment of licence fees therefore places an enormous burden on the finances of the corporation, resulting in constraints to deliver compelling content to the country,” she said.
High default rate
Duvenage said enticing people to pay their TV licence through a competition is not a bad option because the default rate is so high, and, from an enforcement perspective, R300 000 does not go far.
He said the SABC needs the funds and is trying everything to collect TV licence fees, but the default rate is “just getting higher and higher”.
“The reality is that this is a tax that falls into that bracket of irrational taxes that cost too much to enforce, and it’s spiralled out of control to the extent that they [SABC] can’t bring it back.
“In the past, we all had to have a radio licence, a dog licence and [a] bicycle licence. Those taxes fell away because they were just impossible to manage.
“This is now in that bracket, and the SABC must come to terms with that and stop flogging a dead horse, because they are spending a lot of effort, time and money in trying to revive it.
“I’m not saying people shouldn’t pay their TV licences. I’m saying the SABC needs to find a new funding model,” he said.
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