Boris Johnson demands BBC offer BETTER service now they are charging millions of older people for their licences
BORIS Johnson has demanded the BBC buck up and offer even better service now they are charging millions of older people for their licenses.
The Prime Minister has called for the broadcaster to improve its quality of service after it vowed to go ahead with pulling the plug on free TV licences for over-75s.
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The BBC last year announced it would also pull the plug on the initiative from June 2020, sparking a furious backlash.
The scheme had been due to end on June 1 but the corporation extended the free lifeline for millions of elderly Brits due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, which has seen many forced to stay at home.
Speaking today, the PM’s deputy spokesman said they were right to delay the move, but blasted the corporation for going ahead with it.
He said: “We have been clear we are bitterly disappointed by the BBCs decision not to extend the free licence fee beyond August.
“We don’t believe that easing lockdown restrictions means older people value TV any less than they did a few weeks ago.
“The BBC must now look urgently to make sure how it uses its substantial licence fee income to deliver for people of all ages.”
The original decision had been met with widespread dismay with petitions calling for a U-turn attracting hundreds of thousands of signatures.
It was rumoured that the freebie may be extended again until October but yesterday the BBC confirmed it would start to charge people from August 1.
The Beeb claims the scheme would cost it £745million to run, which in practice would have meant the closures of BBC Two, BBC Four, the BBC News channel, the BBC Scotland channel, BBC Radio 5 Live, and a number of local radio stations.
BBC chairman, Sir David Clementi, said: “The decision to commence the new scheme in August has not been easy… The BBC could not continue delaying the scheme without impacting on programmes and services.”
The PM’s deputy spokesman also warned the BBC no decision had been made on decriminalising not paying the license fee.
They added: “”We did consult on decriminalising of the TV licence fee which closed on 1 April after receiving 150,000 responses.”
“We are assessing those and will respond in due course.”
The PM has called for the BBC to look for ways to improve[/caption]
Three million households will now be asked to start paying the £157.50 fee for a colour licence or £57 fee for a black and white licence from then.
The BBC says it will contact all current recipients by post to agree a payment plan if they want to continue to be covered by the licence fee.
It adds that no one will be expected to pay for a new licence until they have been contacted; letters will start being sent in August.
Only households where someone receives the pension credit benefit will still be eligible for a free licence.
The BBC says around 1.5million households are eligible for free licences due to getting pension credit and being over 75, but only 450,000 have so far applied.
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