Windhoek-The national broadcaster the Namibian Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) will soon take thousands of television licence defaulters to court once it finalises processing the files of these non-payers who have failed to honour the demand notices issued to them.
Late November the NBC TV licence department commenced with licence compliance inspections and has so far visited several places such as households, hotels and guest houses, among others, to ensure compliance.
For 2017/18, the target by the TV licence department is to collect at least N$24 million.
In an interview with New Era this week, NBC legal advisor, Steven Yarukeekuro Ndorokaze, revealed that once the processing of files of these non-payers is done, cases would be opened with the police to initiate prosecution.
He said Section 28 of the Namibian Broadcasting Act (Act No. 9 of 1991) criminalizes the possession of a TV set without a valid TV licence and therefore provides for the prosecution of such defaulters.
“We have in the past consulted the Namibian Police and the Office of the Prosecutor General to agree on the process of prosecuting defaulters,” he said.
However, he explained that NBC is yet to agree with the police on whether the defaulters would be arrested and detained pending their hearing or whether only summons will be issued.
Thereafter, he noted, the dockets will be referred to the prosecutor general for the cases to be heard in court.
Ndorokaze said the intensified inspections by the NBC is a deliberate effort to enhance compliance with Section 16 of the Namibian Broadcasting Act (Act No. 9 of 1991) which requires that any person in possession of a TV set must have a valid TV licence in respect of each such TV set.
According to him, the intensified inspections have been effective judging from the various places they have been to since November last year.
“The exercise has enabled us to update our database in instances where personal details have changed, or the number of televisions set has varied. We have also noticed an increase in the number of defaulters settling their accounts,” he noted.
However, he stressed that the limited number of TV licence inspectors at their disposal is a major constraint, saying more inspectors would ensure that they would access more establishments and households through inspections.
“It is safe to say that we have issued a number of demand notices in respect of outstanding TV licence fees and for TV sets that we might not have had on our system. The encouraging fact is that many people have honoured the demand notices issued against them,” he said.
Moreover, he stated the practice is that where they find no TV licence or no valid TV licence, NBC would issue a demand notice, giving the person 21 days within which to take out a valid TV licence and settle whatever fees might be outstanding.
He expressed satisfaction with their TV licence campaign and its message, saying the effectiveness of the campaign is supported by the fact that NBC engagement with the public is no longer centered around why people are required to have a TV licence but more on convenient payment options, the transfer of a TV set between persons and enquiries on the statement of accounts.
“This is testimony to the fact the legal obligation that accompanies the possession of a TV set has been fully appreciated and the focus now is on ensuring compliance. However, we shall continue stressing the legal requirements to enhance compliance further,” he said.
He encouraged viewers to pay all outstanding TV licence fees soonest and have a valid TV licence for all the TV sets in their possession.
He cautioned that once the inspectors get to them the process would no longer be controlled by the defaulters but will be subjected to the timelines stated above, of 21 days to settle, failure of which the NBC will have no option but to initiate prosecution.
So far, he revealed, the NBC teams have not been accompanied by the police, as they did not receive any resistance from the public when visiting different places.