TECH Website Mybroadband are reporting that “SABC has started demanding that South Africans pay TV licence fees for computer monitors, even if they are not receiving broadcast signals on these devices.”
Hanno Labuschagne writes: “As has been the case for the past few years, the annual e-mailed TV Licence Renewal Notice letter explains that broadcasting legislation requires that owners of a TV set must have a valid (paid-up) TV licence.
“However, this year’s notice comes with an additional sentence stating the definition of a TV set includes a “TV monitor (without receiving capabilities) able to receive a broadcast signal by virtue of being connected to any television receiving equipment.”
“The broadcaster specified that the receiving equipment could include a “digital box/decoder, DVD [player] or PC”.
This looks a lot like a tax on general-purpose computing and echoes earlier 2020 proposals to tax the Internet. It is far worse than the proposed Household “Hut” tax that I wrote about here in March 2022. Similar hair-brained schemes to force computer users to get ‘drivers licenses’ were once proposed by attorney Ray Brink, formerly of the Computer Education Computer Society (CECS).
If SABC are allowed to tax monitors and PCs by treating such devices as a source of revenue, they are likely to target any Internet-connected device, including your Laptop and Xbox.
In essence a tax on the tools of your profession and trade in addition to entertainment, and thus an assault upon constitutional rights.
Previous proposals to tax internet connected devices would mean the broadcaster would have been taxing copyrighted content and material for which it may not have express permission to resell nor benefit.
This time around, it looks the state broadcaster is rolling out a simple ‘dumb-tax’ which professes to ignore connectivity and instead relies upon novel definitions of what constitutes a monitor or computer device, this in order to supplement income from advertising and funding from government.
It remains to be seen whether the public broadcaster, which is a merely a company incorporated under the Companies Act, but subject to broadcasting legislation, has the authority to do so without the matter first being debated and tabled in Parliament.