The Deputy Director General of the BBC, Anne Bulford, has reiterated the idea of allowing those currently in receipt of a "free" over-75 TV licence to make a voluntary financial contribution.
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 the BBC's recently-renewed Royal Charter, the national broadcaster 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.
At the start of 2016 we wrote an article explaining how the BBC was planning to wheel out a load of coffin-dodging celebrities to front a new campaign aimed at encouraging over-75s to pay for a TV licence they would normally be entitled to for "free".
Nothing more was mentioned of the idea until a few days ago, when Bulford spoke at the Media and Telecoms Conference in London.
You can read Bulford's full speech here.
The transcript does not mention the idea of voluntary payments towards BBC output, so we assume it was something she mentioned during questioning afterwards.
According to The Sun, Bulford told conference delegates: "Voluntary payment is certainly something that we are interested in looking at."
Try as we might, we just can't imagine over-75s flocking to pay for a TV licence when they know the public purse will pay it for them.
In our opinion a lot of over-75s view the "free" TV licence as something they are entitled to by divine right, having "paid into the system for years". It's the same with the winter fuel allowance and free bus travel. It would have been more sensible to make these perks of old age means tested in the first place, but the Government (or BBC) will struggle to win support if it changes the rules now.
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