Calls for Licence Fee to Be Scrapped Follow over-75s Exemption Row

LONDON, ENGLAND - MARCH 25: People walk past Broadcasting House, the headquarters of the BBC, on March 25, 2014 in London, England. MPs have today voted in favour of an amendment to the Deregulation Bill which, if passed, will require the Government to conduct a review of punishments for non-payment …
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Calls have been made for the BBC to scrap the licence fee and move to a subscription model in light of the new rules which say that pensioners will no longer get their tv licence for free.

At present, over-75s are entitled to free television licences but this is being withdrawn by the BBC. According to a statement by the corporation, had the change not been made the corporation would no longer have been able to afford to fund BBC 2, BBC 4, Radio 5live, BBC News or BBC Scotland.

As a result, some have called for the licence fee to be scrapped entirely with the BBC moving to a subscription-based funding model equivalent to streaming giant Netflix. One such commentator was David Elstein, the former Channel Five boss. He said: “The BBC could ease the pressure by announcing a willingness to abandon the licence fee model by the time its charter expires in 2027.”

“Long ago the BBC should have committed to moving to a subscription-funded basis of driving its revenue like Netflix, Sky, Virgin Media and BT TV,” he told The World at One on Radio 4.

“Then anyone who wanted the BBC’s television services could choose to pay for them. And anyone who didn’t could carry on watching the 75 other channels available on Freeview,” he added.

Mr Elstein continued: “They should set a date… in X years there will be no licence fee as such, we will be a tiered service like Sky. You can have basic BBC, you can have premium BBC… and it will be a monthly fee, payable in the same way you pay Netflix.”

The licence fee change is not the only controversy the BBC have courted in recent weeks. They have also come under fire for refusing to sack comedian Jo Brand for a comment in which she said people could throw battery acid over politicians instead of milkshakes.

Former UKIP leader Gerard Batten tweeted in response to Brand’s comments that “As Bernard Manning said, ‘she’s about as funny as a fire in an orphanage’. Yet we have to pay for her & all the other Commies at the BBC through the licence fee. I made it UKIP policy to scrap the licence fee. Scrap it!”

Meanwhile, allegations of bias, particularly against Brexiteers, continue to dog the BBC. Labour Leave said in response to a recent Question Time episode that featured only Remainers that there were “Zero leavers. All remainers. I think the extreme @BBCPolitics bias has gone on long enough, many leavers will now be thinking about withdrawing their licence fee.”

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