Members of the public are being asked to share their views on whether people aged 75 and above should continue to receive a free TV licence once Government funding the concession comes to an end.
Under the BBC’s latest funding agreement with the Government, the broadcaster becomes responsible for deciding whether to offer the concession after June 2020.
It’s expected that continuing the current scheme would cost £745m by 2021/22, a sum the BBC says would force it to “fundamentally change” how it delivers services, including cutting back spending on content.
However, ending the concession would mean over 75s having to pay for their licence, potentially causing difficulty for those on lower incomes.
Instead of the two more extreme options, the BBC could introduce a discount for those over 75, reducing the amount of income it loses while ensuring current recipients aren’t suddenly required to pay the full cost of a licence, or introduce a means-tested scheme under which those in greater financial need wouldn’t pay, while those who could afford it would.
BBC bosses acknowledge that whatever option is adopted “would have its merits and its drawbacks.”
Tony Hall, BBC Director-General, says: “This is an important decision. We have set out a range of options – each has merits and consequences, with implications for the future of the BBC, and for everyone, including older people.
“We need to hear views to help the BBC make the best and fairest decision.”
David Clementi, BBC Chairman, says: “The Board wants to make an informed decision about the future. We want to hear from the public.
“We will listen to their views and balance all the options and arguments before making a decision. The Board does not underestimate the significance of the decision, its implications for the BBC and its audiences.”
The consultation will run for three months with a decision likely by next summer.