Commercial radio stations could end up paying 250 percent more in annual licence fees if the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa’s proposed increases are imposed, writes Zweli Mokgata in The Times.

Johann Koster, executive director of the National Association of Broadcasters, said while commercial television broadcasters would experience an already high 25percent increase, commercial radio stations would be hit harder.

He said community broadcasters and the SABC were the only entities that would qualify for exemptions from paying licence fees to the regulator. This is based on Icasa’s draft licence fee regulations, which would have commercial broadcasters pay 2.5percent of their annual turnover. At the moment , radio stations pay 1percent while television stations pay 2percent a year.

Koster said: “The costs of starting up a broadcasting service are quite inhibiting and a three-year licence fee exemption in the first three years of operation should be considered by the regulator.

“The broadcasting industry is the most heavily levied industry, even more so than mining.

“Broadcasters have to pay for music rights, copyright fees and all sorts of other charges. A commercial radio station can pay as much as 13percent of its annual turnover in levies,” Koster said.

Click here to read the full report, posted on The Times's website.