BBC reveals plans to review ‘free’ TV Licence for millions of pensioners in pricing overhaul

An autumn review could see millions stripped of their ‘free’ access to basic TV channels

BBC bosses have revealed older people may soon have to pay for their TV Licence as part of a pricing overhaul.

The firm’s director general Tony Hall said that a review of the free licence for over-75s will take place this autumn, while being questioned by the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee.

While many of these users are the most vulnerable financially, Hall said it must bear in mind that this is the generation that use the BBC the most.

“The concession, as it’s currently formulated, comes to an end in June 2020… We, the board, have got to decide what to replace it with,” he said.

“We have got to be mindful. We know that those over 65 or over 75 consume many, many more BBC services than others.”

“There is real hardship among some or many of those over 75 too. We have to consult. That’s something the board will be discussing over the autumn and winter.”

He said: “It could be the same. The board could say we will continue with it as it is. It could be reformed. There’s a whole load of options.

“We are not in a position to say what the right option will be. We have to have a public consultation about what we we do. We will make a decision at some point in the autumn or winter.”

The decision to review prices comes five months after the BBC increased its TV Licence from £147 to £150.50 in a £1.50 rise in April.

Hall’s announcement also comes just a day after the BBC issued a warning to users over a potential data breach – that may have compromised their bank details.

The BBC is also reportedly set to cut back its online services over the next few months as it battles competition from US streaming services.

According to The Daily Telegraph, the BBC Earth and BBC Arts sections of the website will be removed and there will be fewer features as well as less of a focus on celebrity gossip.

Instead, the corporation will focus on eight key areas: iPlayer, news, music and spoken word, weather, sport, children’s content, BBC Bitesize and the bbc.co.uk home page.

These areas are said to be responsible for more than 90% of the BBC’s online audience. The reported cull of services comes as the corporation attempts to overcome the challenge posed by the likes of YouTube and Netflix.

BBC director-general Tony Hall, said: “In the global market, against well-resourced competitors, we have to concentrate on a smaller number of services that deliver our best content online.”