BBC faces ‘difficult decision’ on over-75s’ TV licences, says director-general

The BBC faces a “difficult decision” on whether there should be a further delay to the introduction of new TV licencing rules for the over-75s, according to the corporation’s outgoing director-general.

Lord Tony Hall told the BBC’s Today programme that the broadcaster has yet to decide whether to postpone the changes beyond August.

The corporation was set to introduce means-testing this month, but the end of the universal benefit was pushed back because of the coronavirus pandemic.

BBC Stock
(Ian West/PA)

Lord Hall said there has been “no change” in the BBC’s position for months.

“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,” he said.

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

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

Royal visit to the BBC
(Ben Stansall/PA)

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden has praised the BBC over its decision to delay getting rid of the free over-75 TV licences and said in April that new measures should not be brought in while the elderly are having to isolate.

The broadcaster has been urged to scrap the decision to end the universal benefit by campaign groups including Age UK.

Earlier this month, the charity said the BBC’s proposed replacement plan “would inadvertently place some older people at heightened risk of contracting” coronavirus.

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