Coalition considering giving cost of free TV Licences to the BBC
According to reports the Coalition Government is considering making the BBC ‘foot the bill’ for the free TV licences given to all pensioners over the age of 75.
Media Guardian is reporting that the Coalition Government is considering handing the entire cost of free Television Licences for pensioners over the age of 75 to the BBC. The free licences were introduced by Gordon Brown and cost the country over £500m pounds as the money comes out of taxation and not the BBC’s budget. However, as the Coalition Government looks for yet more ways to save money and cut back on services the bill for free television licences could be handed over to the BBC.
Such a move is in the very early stages of consideration and the BBC are completely opposed to it. If the corporation was forced to ‘foot the bill’ for the licences then it would be disastrous for the BBC. The total cost amounts to more than the budget for BBC Two itself as the corporation would be forced to implement major cuts across its output to cover the costs – that could be further closes of BBC services, more job redundancies and less spent on producing British content.
If that wasn’t bad enough for the BBC Jeremy Hunt, the Culture Secretary, has already warned the corporation could see a reduction in the licence fee when the charter comes up for renewal in 2013. If the BBC’s licence fee was reduced or it had to be shared, with Channel Four say, and the government did pass the bill for the licences to the BBC it would be an utter attack on the corporation itself. However, at this stage Hunt has merely warned the BBC of possible cuts and hasn’t stated they will actually happen.
However, all of this will merely prove the fears of many in the run up to the election that the BBC’s future under a Conservative Government would be ‘bleak’. It certainly seems as though the coalition want to prove its critics right where the BBC are concerned. In the run up to the election Steven Moffat, Russell T. Davies and David Tennant all criticised the party and 50 actors and writers signed an open letter of support for the BBC in the face of a Tory government.