BBC to scrap free TV licenses for over-75s

Reuters LONDON (Reuters) — Pensioners in Britain who have watched television programs such as “Blue Planet” and “Doctor Who” for free will have to start paying after the publicly funded BBC said it would scrap free licenses for people over 75 years old.

The BBC, which is funded by a tax on all television-watching households, said around 3.7 million pensioners who previously received a free TV license will have to pay when its new rules come into force in June 2020.

However, any household that receives a Pension Credit, a form of welfare to top up income for the poorest, will still be eligible for free access. The current annual license costs £154.50 ($195.81) for a color TV.

The move is likely to prove unpopular. The broadcaster has a central presence in British cultural life, with its TV, radio and online content reaching 92 percent of the population each week.

“While research suggests pensioners are now better off than they were when the concession was first introduced nearly 20 years ago, the simple fact is that many are still in poverty — and many want the companionship the BBC can provide,” said BBC Chairman David Clementi.

The BBC agrees on a funding settlement with the government. In 2015 it had to take over the cost of providing free licenses for over-75s by 2020 as part of its latest funding round.Speech

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