BBC Director General Lord Hall is considering axing the free TV licence for pensioners over the age of 75, if they share a household with somebody in work. The change could come into play in 2020, when the broadcaster takes charge of funding for free licences.
The move, which could save the Beeb around £100 million per year, would prove far from popular, as 600,000 households could be affected by the cut.
"Any such proposal would be a form of rationing of what has been until now a national entitlement for all over-75s," said Caroline Abrahams, the charity director at Age UK, who added that the BBC “needs to understand how significant [TV] is to older people." According to the charity’s figures, 49% of the UK’s over-65s count TV or pets as their main form of company.
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Meanwhile, Culture Secretary John Whittingdale's plans to reform the BBC are set to be unveiled this Thursday. They've already been described as "an infringement on the BBC's editorial independence", and are expected to be met with an opposing bill drafted by senior Conservative figures, including former party chairman Lord Fowler. [IBT, Guardian]