News portal

BBC bosses warned it’s ‘unacceptable’ to prosecute older TV viewers for not paying the licence fee

PROSECUTING elderly TV viewers for non-payment of the licence fee would be unacceptable, BBC bosses have been told.

Telly bosses are being urged to keep free TV licences for the over-75s as politicians fear it could lead to low-income OAPs being taken to court, MPs say.

Getty – Contributor MPs have urged the BBC not to scrap free TV licences for over-75s

Beeb chief Lord Hall has been warned that pensioners in their eighties and nineties could be dragged into potential legal action if the change takes place.

A cross-party group of MPs have signed a letter to BBC Director General Lord Hall over scrapping free TV licences.

Thirty-eight people went to prison in 2015 for non-payment which included some twenty women.

In the letter, Tory MP Andrew Bridgen said: “I would remind you that dozens of people, many of whom are women are going to prison for non-payment.

“As if this is not bad enough, to potentially add people in their 80s and 90-s being prosecuted and going to prison for not being able to afford a TV licence is to my mind, unacceptable.”

The letter also has the backing of thirty MPs including Labour’s Conor McGinn and Green MP Caroline Lucas.

To potentially add people in their 80s and 90s being prosecuted and going to prison for not being able to afford a TV licence is to my mind, unacceptable.

Andrew Brigden, Conservative MP

An Age UK study found 41 per cent of over-75s will not be able to afford a licence and will have to cut back on food or heating.

But the BBC have warned that the cutbacks – estimated at £745 million from 2020 – would mean a drastic cut to TV sport and drama.

Prosecutions can take place if you are found to be watching, recording or downloading programmes illegally.

The maximum penalty is £1,000 plus legal costs and possible compensation fees. If they don’t pay and live in England and Wales they can be sent to prison.

The current fee for a TV licence is £150.50 but this will rise from April to £154.50. A public consultation on the issue on the issue is due to end next week.

A BBC spokesman last night said: “Free TV licences for people over 75 are expected to cost £745m a year by 2021/22, and Government funding for the scheme ends in June 2020.

“We’re conscious that pensioner poverty is still an issue for some older people.

"We have set out a range of options in our consultation – each has merits and consequences, with implications for the future of the BBC and for everyone, including older people.

“We need to hear everyone’s views to help the BBC make the best and fairest decision”.

Do I need a TV Licence? Watch this video to find out how to get covered

Add comment