BBC to Delay License Fee Changes for Over 75s Until August in Wake of Coronavirus

BBC Broadcasting House
Courtesy of Matt Cetti-Roberts/LNP/REX/Shutterstock

The BBC is to delay planned TV license fee changes for the over 75s because of the coronavirus outbreak.

The majority of folks over the age of 75 were due to have to start paying the annual £157.50 ($194) BBC license fee from June onward, having previously not had to pay the fee.

However, the changes have been pushed back to August for now. A joint statement today from the BBC and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport said they did not want anyone to be worried about any potential change during the coronavirus crisis.

“The BBC’s priority over the coming period will be to do everything we can to serve the nation at this uniquely challenging time. As the national broadcaster, the BBC has a vital role to play in supplying information to the public in the weeks and months ahead.

“Recognizing the exceptional circumstances, the BBC board has therefore decided to change the start date of the new policy. Our current plan is to now bring it into place on August 1. We will of course keep the issue under review as the situation continues to evolve.”

The BBC had faced calls last week from charities to delay the introduction of the licence fee for over-75s to ensure that those most at risk from the coronavirus outbreak are still able to access accurate information on the pandemic from their television and radios if they are self-isolating.

David Clementi, chairman of the BBC, said: “The BBC board has decided to delay changes to over 75s’ license fees. We are in exceptional circumstances. Now is not the right time. We are fully focused on delivering our services to the public at this difficult time.”

The U.K. government culture secretary Oliver Dowden added: “I am pleased the BBC has worked with us and agreed to delay their license fee changes for over 75s from coming in and will keep this under review. It will be welcome news to millions of older people who now don’t need to worry about their TV license during this challenging period. It is right that the BBC have recognized the exceptional circumstances posed by the coronavirus outbreak and the need for the whole country to pull together in the national effort.”