International streaming services like Netflix, Apple +, Showmax, and Amazon Prime will have to pay licence fees in South Africa in future, and may also have to ensure that 30% of their content on offer here was produced locally.
On Wednesday, the Department of Communications and Digital Technologies confirmed these planned interventions in a presentation to parliament about a new draft white paper for the broadcasting industry.
Last month, government drew public outrage when Minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams alluded to a proposal that would see Netflix and Multichoice collect broadcast licence fees – which will be paid to the SABC – from their users.
This unpopular proposal is aimed at propping up the SABC, which suffered a loss of more than half a billion rand in the past year.
On Wednesday, the department confirmed to the Portfolio Committee on Communications that it had already received 20,000 comments about its proposals.
But the department told the committee that it plans to push ahead to amend its definition of “broadcasting services” in South Africa to include Netflix, Apple +, Showmax, and Amazon Prime, and to subjecting those platforms to licensing fees.
The Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa) will be tasked with determining these fees and holding to account international services which fail to comply. This includes the establishment of a team, which would work closely with South African banks, to halt subscription payments to uncooperative service providers.