Petitions opposing government’s plans to extend TV license fees to streaming services such as Netflix and Showmax have been gaining traction.
This after Minister of Communications and Digital Technologies Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams published the draft white paper on the Audio and Audio-Visual Content Services Policy Framework: A New Vision for South Africa 2020, which has given South Africans until February to voice their opinion.
The draft seeks to change the current law, which requires South Africans to pay a TV license fee for viewing broadcasting services – which in the traditional sense, is limited to a TV set.
It proposes that the definition of “broadcasting services” be broadened to include streaming services whether on a TV set or a phone to help with the SABC’s financial woes.
“This draft white paper proposes that government must put in place legislation provisions for a transitional framework for conversion of existing licences to the new AAVCS licensing framework where required.
“Where any person before the change in the licensing framework lawfully provided a service without requiring a licence they will have permission to continue to do so until the regulator has granted or refused a license application,” reads part of the draft.
Ndabeni-Abrahams has also been on a campaign to get South Africans to pay their TV licenses.
However, her efforts have been widely criticised, with the DA urging South Africans not to pay a cent more to keep the public broadcaster afloat.
“The DA strongly opposes the license fee on streaming services. This is effectively an underhanded attempt by the ANC to force South Africans to use their hard-earned money to bail out the SABC.
“It is ridiculous that the government wants to punish South Africans to use their hard-earned money to sustain an entity which the ANC, through their incessant political interference, destroyed.
The DA appreciates the importance of the SABC as a public broadcaster. But the broadcaster must find creative ways to self-sustain and break-even without making South Africans fork out any more money,” said the party’s shadow minister of communications and digital technologies Zakhele Mbhele.
The party’s online petition has garnered 82,345 signatures so far.
Dear South Africa has also launched its own online petition against Ndabeni-Abrahams’s proposed draft. The petition has garnered 34,079 signatures so far.