You’ll have to lie if you don’t want to pay your TV licence

For South Africans there are several grudge purchases to consider every month, such as insurance, levies, or vehicle repairs. The most irksome, however, has to be a TV licence, which continues to be the bane of most South Africans lives.

I had a particularly frustrating experience with my own TV licence recently, and after talking to lawyers appointed by the SABC, it looks like the only way to avoid paying the licence is to lie.

Before we get to the lie you’ll have to tell, a bit of background.

After purchasing a TV in 2018 from Hirsch’s, with a corresponding TV licence. Instead of paying each month, I opted to go the annual route, only choosing to pay via EFT once I received an SMS from the SABC alerting me that payment was due.

I did this for five years, but the sixth one proved a bit more tricky. This as my EFTs weren’t being processed. Instead of heading to a local retailer like Game to pay for the account, I simply forgot and chose to ignore the follow up communications.

That was, however, until I received a call from lawyers stating that they were assigned my case by the SABC in order to facilitate and expedite payment. After some back and forth on the phone, I said I would arrange payment at month end, as the R344.50 overdue payment was not one I felt like dealing with in the middle of the month.

Upon completion of payment, the lawyers said they would contact me again in a follow-up and advise as to how I could cancel my account.

Here is where things get interesting.

As per the FAQ found on the SABC’s TV Licence website, cancellation happens as follows:

A: When one has sold or otherwise disposed of one’s television set(s) a TV licence is no longer required. The SABC must be notified on a prescribed form (affidavit) of the changed circumstances. No licence is cancelled while moneys are still outstanding on an account.”

Speaking to the lawyers, they explained that if I sold the TV, I would require a proof of sale and then would need to fill out the aforementioned form above.

I told them that I had no intention of selling the TV, but do not make use of any SABC services, so paying a licence fee to the organisation made little to no sense. To their credit, the lawyers understood where I was coming from, but also noted that this is the current procedure and there is no real way to get out of it.

This is where things get a little illegal, as I was then told that the best way to get out of paying my TV licence outside of selling it, would be to ask for an affidavit from the South African Police Service (SAPS) and getting some form of official communication noting that my TV had been stolen, when in actuality it had not.

From there, I could apply to cancel, provided my account was up-to-date with payments.

And this is the sorry state of affairs that the SABC finds itself, making things so frustrating for citizens who may not even make use of their services by forcing them to pay a licence fee. So frustrating in fact, that someone would have to lie to the police in order to get out of paying for the licence.

Now I understand that the licence fee is supposed to go towards a number of different elements that helps the SABC operate, but seeing as how I have no terrestrial cable or set-top-box in my home, only streaming content to my TV via subscriptions service I already pay for thanks to fibre that I too pay for monthly, to be saddled with the cost of a TV licence seems absurd.

Regardless of the absurdity, I am still bound by law to do so.

As OUTA correctly points out, “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.”

For the record, I have not gone to the police faking theft of my TV, but my experience with the SABC to date has driven me perilously close.

[Image – Photo by Paolo Chiabrando on Unsplash]


About Author


Related News