The BBC currently receives a government subsidy to allow the over-75s to watch TV without a licence, a scheme that end in 2020 when the broadcaster will shoulder the burden of free licence fees for older folk by itself. That will leave a £700 million hole in the BBC's budget, although it has a plan. There is one man who could make a difference.
According to BBC sources, the broadcaster is lining up some sort of advertising campaign targeted at the more well-off older TV viewers (anyone who bought a house in the 1970s), with the likes of cultural stalwart Terry Wogan said to be in the running to try to encourage the over-75s to voluntarily pay the licence fee because they can't take it with them and what would they do without Ken Bruce?
The Press Association quotes a BBC source who confirms the idea is on the table, saying: "The BBC has asked independent experts to advise on how to go about attracting voluntary contributions from over-75s when the Government reduces its support. The Government agreed that the BBC could ask for voluntary payments from those who currently receive free licences as part of the agreement for the corporation taking on the costs of free over-75s licences."
The likes of Helen Mirren, Lord Bragg, Terry Wogan and Michael Parkinson are said to be on the hot list of celebs that old people would take heed of, should the scheme get the go-ahead. [Telegraph]