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Television: Licensing

Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport written question – answered on 5th November 2019.

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Photo of Hugh Gaffney Hugh Gaffney Labour, Coatbridge, Chryston and Bellshill

To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what recent discussions she has had with the Prime Minister on the BBC decision to change the eligibility criteria for free TV licences for people aged 75 and over.

Photo of Nigel Adams Nigel Adams Minister of State

The Prime Minister and the Secretary of State frequently discuss a wide range of issues relating to the business of the Department, including television and the media.

The Government has been clear that the future of the over 75s concession is the responsibility of the BBC, not Government. In the 2015 funding settlement, we agreed with the BBC that responsibility for the concession will transfer to the BBC in June 2020; this reform was then debated and agreed by Parliament in the passage of the Digital Economy Act 2017.

The Government is disappointed with the BBC’s decision to restrict the over 75s concession to only those aged over 75 and in receipt of Pension Credit. We recognise the importance of television to people of all ages, particularly for older people who value television as a way to stay connected with the world. The Secretary of State met with the Chairman of the BBC Board and the Director-General of the BBC, and asked them to do more to help those affected by its decision.

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