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BBC on brink: Lord Hall confirms over-75s licence fee 'under review' amid latest crisis


The BBC remains committed to imposing a new licence fee on the over-75s but BBC Director-General Tony Hall signalled the corporation may be forced to further postpone the payment. The BBC has been facing major backlash after announcing last year they would put an end to a scheme granting free licences to the over-75s. But despite plans to start taking payments from the age group in June, the BBC was forced to temporarily shelve its plans because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Speaking to the Today programme, Lord Hall admitted the broadcaster has yet to decide whether to postpone the changes beyond August.

He said: “The board decided to delay implementation of the over-75s until August 1 because we felt in the middle of a crisis it wasn’t the right time, it wasn’t sensitive to the people who will be paying to ask them to pay.

“The board have said they will keep that under review, they are keeping it under review, and we will see what conclusion they take.

“It is a difficult decision and I’m sure we will come to a proper and sensitive conclusion.”

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Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden praised the BBC for their decision to delay getting rid of the free over-75s TV licences.

Mr Dowden in April also urged the broadcaster to reconsider the introduction of fees while the elderly are being advised to shield because of the pandemic as they rely on TV programmes to receive updates on the pandemic and to be entertained.

And campaign groups have long demanded the BBC reconsider their plans altogether and continue to allow over-75s to access their programmes without the need to pay for a licence fee.

Charity Age UK said earlier in June the BBC’s proposed replacement plan “would inadvertently place some older people at heightened risk of contracting” coronavirus.

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Conservative MP Bill Wiggin this week unveiled his proposal to have BBC ownership passed on from the Government to licence fee-payers.

The proposal would see the corporation answering ti “anyone other than the public” and would see licence fee holders treated like share-holders.

Mr Wiggin proposed the BBC’s news services would be split off and be funded by the Government, with a requirement to be “as neutral and as unbiased as it possibly can be”.

He insists his proposals are not about privatising the BBC but making it accountable to the people who watch its programmes.


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