BBC to Pay License Fees for Over-75s


LONDON: The BBC has been ordered to take on the cost of providing free television licenses for those over the age of 75, a process that will be phased in from 2018-19 and fully implemented by 2020-21.

U.K. Culture Secretary John Whittingdale announced the ruling earlier today that the BBC will bear the reported £650 million ($1.01 billion) cost of the license fee for over 75s itself. To help cover the costs, the government could allow the BBC to charge for iPlayer services.

Additionally, the government will "consider carefully" decriminalizing non-payment of the license fee.

Whittingdale said: “The BBC is a world-class broadcaster and a cultural institution producing some of the best television and radio in the world. However as a publicly funded institution, it also needs to make savings and contribute to what we need to do to get our country’s finances in order.

“I welcome the BBC’s commitment in reaching this funding agreement, which is an important issue for its own future. I look forward to discussing the full range of issues over the course of the Charter Review period, and will be making an announcement about the process for the Review in due course.”

Chancellor George Osborne commented: “The BBC is a valued national institution that produces some of the finest television and radio in the world. But it is also a publicly-funded body, so it is right that it, like other parts of the public sector, should make savings.

“The deal we have agreed with the corporation means that it will take on the significant cost of TV licenses for the over-75s, easing some of the pressure on taxpayers who have to meet the country’s welfare bill, while also ensuring that our promise to maintain pensioner benefits is met in full over the next five years.”

“The decisions the BBC and the government have reached together will also secure its long-term future, with a funding model that is sustainable and can adapt in an age where technology is rapidly changing.”

BBC Director-General Tony Hall remarked: "We have secured the right deal for the BBC in difficult economic circumstances for the country. This agreement secures the long term funding for a strong BBC over the next Charter period. It means a commitment to increase the license fee in line with inflation, subject to charter review, the end of the iPlayer loophole and the end of the broadband ringfence. In the circumstances, the BBC has agreed take on the costs for free license fees for over-75s, and after the next parliament, will take on the policy."