When registering for a digital terrestrial TV set top box (STB), households classified as poor, no longer need to have a TV licence with you.

This is according to Minister of Communications, Faith Muthambi, who announced this during the delivery of her department’s Budget Vote Speech in parliament this morning.

“Together with the SABC management, we have resolved to de-link the TV license requirement from the STB registration process,” Muthambi said.

Initially, only eligible TV license holders who earn a total income of R3 200 and under qualified to register for a STB, but according to the minister, there has been a slow take-up by citizens due to the license requirement.

“I have also instructed the SABC to clean up the TV license database to have accurate information on who owns a TV set,” she said.

Only 30% of South African households with a TV pay their licence.

This means that government would not be able to reach their target of issuing five million free STBs to qualifying poor households, which means that the majority of citizens wouldn’t qualify for an STB if the TV licence requirement had remained in place.

The minister however urged South Africans to pay their TV licences “to enable the SABC to discharge its public broadcasting service mandate with ease”.

Muthambi said the department’s total budget for the 2016/17 financial year amounts to R1.3 billion, of which R899 million will be transferred to its entities such as the Government Communication and Information System.

The Department of Communications will announce the analogue signal switch-off date when more than 80% of the country’s TV-watching households have been migrated to digital TV.

[Source – Department of Communications, image – CC Government ZA]