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BBC to Cover License Costs for Elderly, Charge for Streaming Service

The BBC will soon begin covering the costs of the annual TV license for U.K. residents 75 and older. The Beeb will also gain the right to begin charging for use of its popular iPlayer on-demand service.

The changes were confirmed Monday by U.K. Culture Secretary John Whittingdale, after rumors of the policy revamp leaked last week.

Whittingdale told Parliament on Monday that the change for elderly residents would be phased in starting in the 2018 and cover all eligible residents by 2021. That shift will mean about $1 billion in lost license income for the Beeb. The annual bill for a TV license at present stands at about $227 per household.

To help offset that loss, the government will allow the BBC to charge for use of its iPlayer service. At present, many residents avoid the annual license fee by using only the streaming service. Details of that process were not immediately disclosed.

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