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The government removes smartphones from draft TV licence list

big phones, thight pockets
(Image credit: Stock.adobe.com © Bacho Foto)

The Department of Communications and Digital Technologies has been pushing to include tablets, laptops and smartphones to the list of devices that require a TV licence to help increase their revenue. 

The draft paper which included the provision was met with outrage as South Africans saw the move as another money grab by the government to bail-out the indebted SABC. 

The argument by the Department is that TV isn't the only place people watch shows anymore, and therefore they are missing out on revenue as fewer people buy TV sets. While this is partially true, the number of compliment TV owners is also low, with TV licence payments dipping in recent years. 

public comment was requested and it appears the government have stepped back on one issue, smartphones. In the white paper, the Department has removed smartphones from the list that requires a TV licence.

While this still isn't official policy yet, it does speak to the absurdity that was pointed out in requiring all South Africans to pay an annual licence on their smartphone in addition to paying for the phone itself.

Whether smartphones will remain out of the final policy is still to be seen. The overall policy has been widely lambasted for its far reach and it has been noted how difficult enforcement is likely to be.