- BBC delays TV licence changes amid coronavirus concerns
- Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden: “It is right that the BBC have recognised the exceptional circumstances posed by the coronavirus”
- BBC plans to implement changes from 1 August
In light of the global coronavirus situation, the BBC and DCMS have released a joint statement confirming plans to delay changes to the UK TV licence for the over-75s until August.
Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) and the BBC confirmed the changes, which were due to come into effect on 1 June, will be postponed until early August.
Considering the current climate and crisis control around the pandemic coronavirus “during this time we do not want anyone to be worried about any potential change” the organisations said in a joint statement.
“The BBC’s priority over the coming period will be to do everything we can to serve the nation at this uniquely challenging time. As the national broadcaster, the BBC has a vital role to play in supplying information to the public in the weeks and months ahead.
“Recognising the exceptional circumstances, the BBC Board has therefore decided to change the start date of the new policy. Our current plan is to now bring it into place on 1 August.
“We will, of course, keep the issue under review as the situation continues to evolve.”
The changes would have seen UK viewers over-75 pay for the licence fee for the first time, dependent on earnings. The decision, made as a result of the agreed funding model between the BBC and the UK government, has come under fire from several politicians.
- Read more: UK to review decriminalising BBC licence fee
BBC chairman Sir David Clementi cited the “exceptional circumstances” the public are currently under and confirmed that “now is not the right time” to overall and implement changes to the established licencing structure.
He added: “We are fully focussed on delivering our services to the public at this difficult time.”
Culture Secretary, Oliver Dowden said: “I am pleased the BBC has worked with us and agreed to delay their licence fee changes for over 75s from coming in and will keep this under review.
“It will be welcome news to millions of older people who now don’t need to worry about their TV licence during this challenging period.
“It is right that the BBC have recognised the exceptional circumstances posed by the coronavirus outbreak and the need for the whole country to pull together in the national effort.”