BBC attacked over ‘slap in the face’ TV licence fee hike hitting ‘struggling pensioners’

TV licence fee: BBC 'need new business model' says expert

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The cost of an annual TV Licence will increase from £157.50 to £159 from April 1, 2021. The price hike comes after free TV Licences for most over-75s was controversially abolished on July 31, 2020. BBC’s director-general Tim Davie previously said not implementing the policy would have cost the corporation £700million.

Dennis Reed, director of the campaign group Silver Voices, said the increase in the licence fee is a “slap in the face” for those already struggling and claimed this will hit vulnerable pensioners in the pocket.

Mr Reed claimed the rise could not be justified as more people have been made to pay the fee since last August.

He told “Up until August 1 last year, they never received any money from the over-75s, so I don’t know why it is suddenly costing them millions of pounds.

“I really don’t understand that calculation, they never received any money before, so they are not really losing that money if you take my point.”

In a scathing assessment, Mr Reed also claimed the BBC must have made savings during the pandemic as viewers were given a “diet of repeats”.

He also argued that time should have been used to “tighten their belts” instead of throwing additional costs onto “struggling pensioners”.

Mr Reed added: “There is no justification for a rise in the licence fee, the BBC must have been saving some money over the pandemic period because we are getting a diet of repeats.

“The number of new live programming is fairly low, so they must have been saving over that period.

“And you would have thought that they would want to tighten their belts in order to avoid placing more problems on struggling pensioners.”

The cost of the TV Licence is set by the Government and has been calculated in line with inflation since April 2017.

Last month, the Government said it is not going ahead with plans to decriminalise non-payment of the licence fee but will keep the issue under “active consideration”.

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said switching to a civil enforcement system risked being seen as an “invitation” to evade the fee and could ultimately reward those who declined to pay.

But, he added the Government remained concerned that a criminal sanction was “disproportionate and unfair” in the current public service broadcasting landscape.

The BBC has previously warned that decriminalising licence fee evasion and switching to a civil system would cost it more than £1billion and lead to significant cuts.

The current BBC TV licence model is due to be reviewed in 2027 and comes as campaigners call for a subscription service.

Mr Davie has insisted the current model is the best way of funding the BBC.


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Speaking at an Ofcom conference, he said: “I haven’t seen a model that beats the current one at the moment, a universally funded licence fee.

“The vast majority of households think it offers very good value. That’s what the BBC needs to focus on. Under my leadership, we’ll focus on that.”

A BBC TV licencing spokeswoman told “The Government sets the level of the licence fee, not the BBC. We have implemented changes for the over 75s with the greatest care and have worked to make the process as fair and straightforward as possible.


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