COMMUNICATIONS Minister Siphiwe Nyanda says the SABC has spent close to a quarter of a billion rands chasing TV licence defaulters, and this is why he is proposing a one percent tax levy on viewers, writes Xolani Mbanjwa in the Daily News.

The figure was confirmed by Nyanda's spokesman, Tiyani Rikhotso, yesterday.

The broadcaster uses licence inspectors, debt collectors, attorneys and media promotions and advertisements to persuade viewers to pay their licences.

Rikhotso's comments came as the DA slammed Nyanda's Public Service Broadcasting Bill as an attempt by the minister to take control of the SABC. Rikhotso stressed that collecting licence fees was not viable.

"People need to realise that at the moment we have a situation whereby the SABC collects licence fees, but it has been proven over time that this is not a sustainable way of funding a public broadcaster – because people don't pay their television licences.

"The SABC ends up having to spend money trying to recover the money that is due to it.

"At the end of the day, the SABC doesn't even get the money because people don't pay. And the SABC has to pay more money basically running after these people, and paying service providers to run after these people who don't pay. So any reasonable person would agree with me that that is not a sustainable way of funding a public broadcaster," Rikhotso said.

The SABC – which is in the red to the tune of hundreds of millions of rands and was given R200-million by Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan – had spent nearly R250m "trying to chase people to pay their television licences".

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