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SABC wants to expand the definition of "TV" for TV licences

Young woman using smartphone in Sydney
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Recently the SABC caused outrage after it suggested that it would start including Netflix under its TV licencing rules. South Africans are likely to be even more upset as the broadcaster has suggested it could also expand the definition of TVs to include laptops, smartphones and tablets. 

These proposed requirements are all part of revisions being suggested as an update to the Broadcasting Act. 

The inclusion of the TV licence in reference to these devices is because this is where people now watch shows, not just on a television set. 

The current definition of a TV set does include computers, but only monitors which can receive a broadcast signal, since it was written so long ago it doesn't include laptops. 

Outrage over expansion 

The new recommendations have sparked negative response from many in the country. This has been expected as the SABC has been in serious financial difficulties for years. 

Many consider these possible new regulations as a way for the public broadcaster to attempt to keep afloat using citizens money without offering them anything of value. 

While the negative response has been significant, it hasn't taken into account that even though most South Africans have a traditional TV under the current rules, most don't pay for a licence. 

This is because enforcing such a rule has been extremely difficult and not often carried out. While the new regulations are hoping to change this, it is just outright hard to check every home for a TV against the correct licence. 

So while it is possible the expanded regulations could make it a requirement for you to pay R200 a year to licence your smartphone, enforcing this is still very unclear.