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South Africans could soon need a TV License for their Smartphones and Laptops

The SABC has revealed its plans to push new regulations that would call for South Africans to pay TV Licence fees.

Sylvia Tladi, SABC Head of TV Licences, said that “one of the key things that we [need] to deal with was the definition of the television set because once you have defined what a television set is, you move on to identifying whether a licence is required or not.”

Tladi goes on to say that people are not just viewing content or broadcasting services on a traditional TV anymore – and that’s why the regulations need to change.

“What we are asking for is for the definition to be amended so that it can also include other devices that are not traditionally built to look like television sets but are used to receive broadcasting services for content, whatever platforms people use to consume content.”

This amendment could expand to include smartphones and laptops.

“We are not saying that just by virtue of you buying that laptop you are now required to have a TV licence,” she said. “What we are saying is any device that will enable you to watch broadcasting, whatever it is, will require a TV Licence.”

Tladi noted, however, that the SABC has already been able to charge for a mobile licence with the current regulations.

“Our regulations currently already provide for us to charge for a mobile licence. It is just part of the regulations that the SABC did not fully explore and even when we did, it wasn’t a big thing in South Africa.”

“It was quite big during the 2010 World Cup because that is when people went out and bought smartphones because they wanted to watch soccer on their phones, and then it died down.”

“However, our legislation already provides for a mobile licence, which means the SABC can actually consider the device you are using to be a television receiving a signal and charge you for that.”

There’s no word yet on when, or if, the SABC’s plan will come in to effect as the proposals are still in very early stages.

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