SABC has no plan to ask Netflix to collect TV licence fees

The SABC has rubbished reports that it’s demanding that Netflix and other Internet streaming companies collect television licence fees on its behalf.

That’s according to SABC chief operating officer Ian Plaatjes, who was speaking to TechCentral on Monday about the company’s newly announced content-sharing agreement with Telkom.

Various media reports in recent weeks have conflated remarks made in parliament by deputy communications minister Pinky Kekana about the possibility of streaming companies collecting licence fees on behalf of the public broadcaster with suggestions that the SABC is seeking such an arrangement.

“It’s confusion with the (draft) white paper (on audiovisual services),” Plaatjes said. “It has nothing to do with the SABC. Certainly, we have not made any statements (about this), nor do we have any aspirations to have Netflix or any streaming company to collect licence fees (on our behalf).”

With only a small minority of South Africans paying the annual TV licence fee, the SABC must rely mostly on advertising for revenue, which has taken a hit due to the Covid-19 pandemic and associated lockdown.

While the public broadcaster has no intention of asking streaming companies to collect the fees on its behalf, it is keen for DStv parent MultiChoice Group to do so.


“We’ve been saying for a while now that DStv sells boxes into the entry-level market using our properties (the SABC channels),” Plaatjes said. “Many of those subscribers don’t have a television licence. They (MultiChoice) should be collecting (licence fees) on our behalf or paying some sort of compensation or levy to us.”

On the agreement with Telkom to supply content to the telecommunications operator’s new TelkomOne streaming platform, Plaatjes said the agreement is non-exclusive, meaning the broadcaster can and will seek out similar commercial arrangements with other streaming providers.

The Telkom deal comes ahead of the SABC’s plan to launch its own streaming service in late 2021. TechCentral reported earlier this month that the broadcaster had issued a request for information to learn about the latest solutions ahead of publishing a request for proposals (a tender, in effect) early next year. Plaatjes said the SABC hopes to launch the streaming platform toward the end of next year.  — © 2020 NewsCentral Media