“Poor people” no longer need to have a TV licence to register for a digital terrestrial TV set top box (STB).
The burden of having to have a paid-up TV licence has resulted in most South Africans missing the SABC’s digital terrestrial television channels.
Other South Africans who had TV licences have fallen behind with payments, which leads to defaulting and legal hangovers.
This relieving news was announced by the minister of communications, Faith Muthambi, during her budget speech in Parliament on Friday.
South Africa missed the agreed deadline of June 2015 to complete the switchover from analogue to digital terrestrial TV signals – known as the digital migration.
Muthambi’s announcement comes after a meeting between the SABC and the department of communication.
“Together with the SABC management, we have resolved to de-link the TV licence requirements from the STB registration process” said Muthambi.
She told parliament that in the recent past there was a slow registration “take-up due to the TV licence requirement and insufficient funding to connect the public”.
Muthambi also said that she told the public broadcaster to clean up their TV licence base to have reliable information on who owns a TV set in South Africa to enable “proper infrastructure planning”.