Times are getting hard at the BBC.
Having spent decades pissing licence fee payers' money up the wall, the Government has finally vowed to make the national broadcaster pay its own way.
One of the first ways it will have to do that is by self-funding the provision of "free" TV licences to the over-75s.
Under current arrangements any household with an occupant aged 75 or older is entitled to a "free" TV licence, which is actually paid for by the Department and Work and Pensions. The total cost of these TV licences is around £750m per year.
Under the terms of its next Royal Charter the BBC will begin shouldering some of the cost from 2018/19. The BBC will be fully responsible for funding the over-75 TV licence from 2020/21, so naturally wants to do so as cheaply as possible.
To that end, the BBC has come up with a novel idea to slash the ongoing cost of the over-75 TV licence - it will begin asking over-75s to pay for a licence they are entitled to for free.
The campaign will be fronted by a load of coffin-dodging celebrities, including Lord Melvyn Bragg, Sir Michael Parkinson, Sir Terry Wogan and Dame Helen Mirren. Curiously, there has been no mention of witness A7, despite him also fitting the mould.
Of course it won't be cheap to hire those famous personalities, but the BBC is confident it will recoup their appearance fees as droves of pensioners are whipped into a TV licence payment frenzy.
The BBC is also exploring options to amend the terms of the over-75 TV licence, so that households are only eligible if all of the occupants are at least 75 years old. Such a move, which would need legislative approval, would immediately slash the £700m annual bill in half.
We would encourage every over-75 household to stand firm and exercise their right to a "free" TV licence. They should not voluntarily give the BBC their hard earned cash, for it to fritter away on fat cat pensions, failed initiatives, top-heavy management and damage-limitation.
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