Can your TV licence payments impact your credit score?

By Harper Banks

Everyone who owns a television in South Africa is liable to pay for a TV licence. Plans are in the pipeline to extend the licensing requirement to all devices that can stream any kind of content, though this is yet to be confirmed.

A TV license can seem like a grudge spend, but what happens if you don’t pay it? We have a look at how the license works, and how failure to pay it can impact your credit score.

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The role of the SABC – are they a credit provider?

According to Charlene Erasmus, head of the collections department and call centre at Hammond Pole Attorneys, the South African Broadcasting Commission (SABC) is not a credit provider. There has therefore been some historical debate about whether or not they can legally blacklist you. As it currently stands, your TV license is considered a tax and not a fee.

“The question still remains around the actual blacklisting. Whether legal or not, it does occur. The SABC is still handing over consumers for collections on annual license fees,” says Erasmus.

She explains that if the process is done correctly, a listing can be submitted to the bureaus to indicate “bad payer status”. To obtain a default listing, a judgment needs to be granted.

“A TV licence is not a subscription, as is the case with DSTV or Netflix. However, you agree to pay your annual fees when purchasing a TV or smart TV device,” says Erasmus.

READ MORE: Do this if your credit score is negatively impacted by creditor error

Can failure to pay impact your credit score?

Erasmus says that initial failure to pay your TV license will not affect your credit score. However, continuing to avoid payment will ultimately damage your score if the SABC proceeds with legal action.

“There are also more severe consequences, as per the Broadcasting Act, which include fines and imprisonment for up to 6 months, based on the terms and conditions during sign up,” says Erasmus.

“Unlike credit providers, the SABC can add additional penalty fees at between 10% and 100% of your annual fee, depending on the default period. Should you be handed over, you will be liable for further costs from the collecting agent which can become costly and should be avoided,” she explains.

It’s therefore important to make sure you pay your bills, including TV licence, so that you don’t find yourself in such a predicament.

Check up on your credit score for free by joining CreditSav.

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