OPINION: As the crisis at the SABC continues to unfold, much discussion is to be found on social media and over dinner tables on whether one should continue to pay for a TV licence.
The news this week that the ANC intends putting pressure on Communications Minister Faith Muthambi to end the increasing idiocy of the SABC board and its manic management, is very hard to believe.
I would have imagined that any moral outrage that might have existed within the ANC would have been held in check until after the municipal elections in four weeks time to ensure that the 60 percent of the electorate whose only source of information is the SABC, keep voting for the governing party.
On the other hand, who knows? Maybe the pressure being put on the minister by her ANC colleagues will take a lot more than four weeks to come to fruition, in which case those backing SABC’s censorship will have won and those who have displayed moral outrage will have assuaged their guilty consciences.
Come what may, however, I have resisted the increasing temptation to show my indignation at it all by not paying my TV licence this time round. And, with my marketing hat on, trying to persuade my clients not to support the SABC with advertising and sponsorship.
The point is that in spite of the immorality of its actions, the SABC does in certain cases still present a good platform for advertising.
No ad boycott during apartheid
Just as it did in the apartheid years when none of South Africa’s big brands even considered boycotting the SABC when it was being so completely abused by its political masters.
While upper economic groups really don’t take much interest in 30 second TV commercials anymore, preferring to skip commercial breaks or just watch catch-up ad-free programmes, the lower economic groups still watch SABC 1 in great numbers and listen to the SABC African Language Radio (ALR) stations in even greater numbers.
These target markets still consume advertising as though they were editorial straight from the bible, so it would be remiss of any marketer, myself included, to move clients away from these opportunities simply because clients pay us to get the best return on investment and maximum advertising efficiency.
They usually don’t attach moral terms and conditions to that.
So, while I might personally never watch any SABC TV channels nor listen to any of its radio stations, I would be guilty of fraud should I persuade any client to pull their brands off an SABC advertising platform.
The same applies to paying my TV licence. Quite simply, even though I do not watch or listen to anything the SABC broadcasts, the law of the land requires me to pay my licence.
I believe in South Africa right now, so many of us who complain bitterly about lawlessness and crime are being a bit two-faced. We claim if taxis can get away with blatantly breaking the rules of the road with impunity, then dammit, why shouldn’t we break speed limits and overtake when we shouldn’t ?
Why shouldn’t we cheat on our taxes given the fact that government fats cats are so blatantly robbing the fiscus and enriching themselves?
The right thing to do
The thing is, South African society is fast becoming like so many ANC politicians who are very selective about the law. We obey easy to obey laws and disregard those that tend to be inconvenient to us.
My decision is simply not to allow myself to become as corrupt as our leaders in both government and business.
If there is a law, I will not break it no matter how stupid or insane it might be.
Certainly, I will protest and harangue those who make these laws. I will toyi-toyi with the best.
But, breaking laws just makes one as bad as the worst. And that includes not paying TV licences or marketers and ad agencies persuading clients not to support the public broadcaster.
Follow Chris Moerdyk on Twitter @
Want to continue this conversation on The Media Online platforms? Comment on Twitter @MediaTMO or on our Facebook page. Send us your suggestions, comments, contributions or tip-offs via e-mail to email@example.com.