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SABC Succumbs to Evasion Trend; TV Licence Revenues Decline in 2022/2023

Published September 21, 2023
9 months ago

In the latest briefing to Parliament’s Communications and Digital Technologies portfolio committee, SABC Board chair Khathutselo Ramukumba confirmed the continuous plunge of revenues from TV licences in the 2022/2023 fiscal year, seeing the highest evasion increase since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic. According to Ramukumba, the TV licence evasion rate soared from 82% in 2021/2022 to an unprecedented 87% during the last fiscal year, leaving less than 13% of TV licence holders committed to their fees.

Despite constant efforts of recovery, the public broadcaster has failed to collect due TV licence revenues for several consecutive years, experiencing an evasion rate exceeding 80% in the first year of the Covid-19 pandemic itself. Board chair Ramukumba also revealed a distressful loss surpassing R1 billion in SABC’s 2022/2023 fiscal year, attributing it to the relentless competition from streaming platforms, incessant load-shedding, and the analogue shut-off diminishing advertising revenue.

In contrast to the progressive performance of the prior board, which successfully reduced SABC's financial losses, the current financial position parallels that of five years ago. The losses shrunk from R977 million in the 2017/2018 fiscal year to R200 million in 2021/2022, only to multiply by over five times in the past fiscal year.

The SABC has proposed that dominant pay-TV broadcasters and streaming services collect the licences on its behalf, suggesting a shift in their funding model. However, civil society organisations have shown a resistance to this approach, emphasizing the importance of SABC achieving financial viability as a broadcaster of choice rather than a necessity.

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