SABC TV licences and debt collection: OUTA’s answers to frequently asked questions

We have been inundated with questions regarding the payment of SABC TV licences. Here is what you need to know about this very contentious issue.

In light of the corruption and maladministration at the SABC, more and more South Africans are contacting us with the same question: should I pay my TV licence, or not?

While we share your concern over the abuse of taxpayers’ hard earned money, paying your SABC TV licence is prescribed by the Broadcasting Act 4 of 1999. However, we are aware that many South Africans are receiving threatening SMS’s with misleading information about what can (and will) be done to them if they don’t pay. Often these SMS’s contain incorrect information and incorrect amounts. Here’s what you need to know about paying your TV licence.

Here’s what you need to know about paying your TV licence (Please click on the questions to show the answers).

What must I do if I receive threatening messages from the SABC or a debt collector regarding my TV licence?

In the case of the SABC we would advise you to pay your TV licence in terms of the Broadcasting Act. If you have questions regarding the account (for instance, how the final outstanding amount was calculated), we would suggest that you contact the SABC directly.

If you are contacted by a debt collector, we would urge you to ask for their debt collector’s name and registration number at the Council for Debt Collectors, and a detailed report of your own account as well their mandate to collect on behalf of the SABC.

We make this recommendation in terms of the Debt Collectors Act 144 of 1998.

We would further urge you to take note of any threats issued against you and compare them to those penalties prescribed by the Act and the Debt Collector’s Code of Conduct.

The SABC or debt collection agency will first have to issue a summons and then see you found guilty in court before you may be fined an amount not exceeding R500.00 and/or imprisoned for a period not exceeding six months.

Question: Are there any questions that I should ask someone who contacts me about outstanding SABC TV licence debt?

  • Make sure you get the caller’s name and contact details
  • Are you registered with the Council for Debt Collectors?(Any individual employed by a debt collector’s company, must be registered with the Council. The reason for this is that they must comply with the Debt Collector’s Code of Conduct.)
  • Make sure you confirm that the person who contacted you is indeed a registered debt collector. You can confirm here if the person is indeed registered: https://cfdc.org.za/collector-directory/
  • Can you give me a breakdown for the amount you allege I owe?

Where and how do I complain about a debt collector’s conduct?

Why should I ask the debt collector for their details?

In terms of the Debt Collectors Act 144 of 1998, from 11 August 2003, only an attorney or an employee of an attorney shall act as a debt collector unless

  • he or she is registered as a debt collector in terms of this Act;
  • and, in the case of a company or close corporation carrying on business as a debt collector, unless, in addition to the company or close corporation itself, every director of the company and member of the close corporation and every officer of such company or close corporation, not being himself or herself a director or member but who is concerned with debt collecting, as the case may be, is registered as a debt collector.

What are the consequences of failing to pay my SABC TV licence?

Should a payment be late, an account incurs a penalty of 10% per month to a maximum of 100% per year.

Any person who fails to comply with section 27 is guilty of an offence and is liable, upon conviction, to a fine not exceeding R500 in relation to each offence and/or to imprisonment for a period not exceeding six months.

Must I pay my SABC TV licence?

Yes.

In terms of section 27 of the Broadcasting Act 4 of 1999, no person may use a television set unless such a person is in possession of a television licence issued by the SABC and the prescribed fee of R265.00 per annum or R28.00 per month is paid.

Is there a law that says I must pay my SABC TV licence?

Yes. Section 27 of the Broadcasting Act 4 of 1999 clearly stipulates that no person may use a television set unless such a person is in possession of a television licence issued by the SABC and the prescribed fee of R265.00 per annum or R28.00 per month is paid.

Should a payment be late, an account incurs a penalty of 10% per month to a maximum of 100% per annum.

Any person who contravenes or fails to comply with section 27 is guilty of an offence and is liable, upon conviction, to a fine not exceeding R500 in relation to each offence and/or to imprisonment for a period not exceeding six months.

If no payment is forthcoming, the SABC may hand your account over to a legal representative, or threaten to do so. In terms of the Debt Collectors Act 144 of 1998, from 11 August 2003, only an attorney or an employee of an attorney shall act as a debt collector unless

  • he or she is registered as a debt collector in terms of this Act;
  • and, in the case of a company or close corporation carrying on business as a debt collector, unless, in addition to the company or close corporation itself, every director of the company and member of the close corporation and every officer of such company or close corporation, not being himself or herself a director or member but who is concerned with debt collecting, as the case may be, is registered as a debt collector. In other words: Any person or company other than an attorney, but register with the Council for Debt Collectors if they engage in the business of debt collecting.
  • Should a person be contacted by such an agency it is advisable to ask for their debt collector’s registration number and their mandate in order to determine if they are authorised to collect such debt.

Do I need a different licence for each television set I own?

No.

A single domestic licence is required per household, provided that the TV sets are used only at the licence holder’s residence and are used only by members of the licence holder’s family.

A family member is defined as any person who living permanently with the holder, dependent on the holder or owed a legal duty of support by the holder.

This will cover direct family members, spouses and unmarried life partners.

Must I pay my TV licence even if I do not use it to watch TV?

Yes, if a person possesses “television receiving equipment” they are required by law to pay a TV licence.

What must I do if I have sold or otherwise disposed of my TV?

The SABC must be notified on a prescribed form (affidavit) of the changed circumstances. However, no licence will be cancelled while moneys are still outstanding on an account.

Find the form to cancel your TV licence here: https://businesstech.co.za/news/media/106521/cancel-your-tv-licence-with-this-form/

Do I still need a TV licence if I receive a television set as a gift?

Yes. You will require your own TV licence. A single domestic licence is required per household, provided that the TV sets are used only at the licence holder’s residence and are used only by members of the licence holder’s family.

What must I do if I move to a new address?

The SABC must be informed in writing within 30 days of a change of address. The notification must be in writing and addressed to:

The Manager, Television Licences, SABC, Private Bag X60, Auckland Park 2006; or by freepost to: JHZ153K, SABC, Auckland Park; or By fax/e-mail to the numbers/addresses on the SABC’s TV licence correspondence.

What must I do if my question is not covered by this FAQ?

We would recommend that you contact the SABC directly at:

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