As part of jaw-dropping plans to increase revenue for the broke SABC, acting CEO James Aguma told parliament on Wednesday it wants DStv to be compelled to collect TV licence fees on behalf of the SABC, and also wants SABC news to be sponsored.
Aguma became the second SABC CEO in the public broadcaster’s history to once again raise a widely-panned idea from 2009 of the public broadcaster, when he said the SABC wants access to MultiChoice’s subscriber database and wants MultiChoice to be forced to collect TV licence fees on behalf of the SABC.
He also wants the regulations changed so that SABC news can be sponsored – something that is not allowed to be done by the public broadcaster to prevent undue commercial influence.
Aguma in parliament said the SABC wants “changes to the Broadcasting Act to increase revenue from television licences. Here we’re saying the majority of non-payers of TV licences may be brought into the net if we can change the Broadcasting Act due to two things”.
“One to define what a receiving device is – a TV – because now you can view content on different platforms. Yet the Act is only talking to limited devices. So we need to do that.”
“Also probably compelling some of the commercial broadcasters to make sure that they can collect TV licences on behalf of the SABC.”
“We also want a review of the Icasa regulations for sponsorship of news,” said Aguma.
He told parliament the SABC spent R649m the past three years on broadcasting news and gets R100m per year from MultiChoice for its SABC News (DStv 404) channel.
“We don’t get any revenue from that [news]. So we’re saying, if there are changes to this, then probably we can close the gap between the cost from broadcasting news and the revenue that is limited to what we get from MultiChoice.”
“We want to find inventive ways of collecting SABC TV licence revenues, one of which is changing the Broadcasting Act to assist us in that regard”.
Aguma revealed the cash-strapped SABC only has R110m in the bank.
The SABC, through the minister of communications, is again asking the treasury – like in 2009 – for a government bail-out in the form of a bank guaranteed loan. The SABC on Wednesday declined to tell parliament the amount it is asking for.