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Changes to TV licence charges: Everything you need to know

Added 954 days ago. 20 June 2019

There has been a lot of talk over the last week of changes to the TV licence charge.

We’ve put together a brief summary with everything you need to know about these changes and how it might affect you.

The BBC has confirmed plans to make most over-75s pay the TV licence fee, a service that has been provided free for this age group since 1999. The new charges, which will come into effect in June 2020, will see millions of households having to start paying £154.50 a year for the right to watch live television and access the BBC’s iPlayer service.

The BBC will continue to provide a free licence to over-75s who can provide evidence that they claim pension credit, a means-tested benefit designed to help older people. It is important for anyone who could be entitled to this benefit to apply for it as criminal prosecutions could be a possibility for those who continue to watch live TV without a valid licence.
The BBC’s reasoning for this is it is the only way to avoid closing channels and making substantial cutbacks. Maintaining the free service would have taken up a fifth of the BBC’s budget following the government’s decision to withdraw funding for the free licence. This is equal to the total amount spent on BBC Two, BBC Three, BBC Four, the BBC News channel, CBBC and CBeebies.

The increased costs come at a time when the BBC is battling to maintain its main source of funding while also remaining relevant to younger viewers. 

The average age of a BBC One viewer is now 60-plus, meaning many people who consume the broadcaster’s content are currently viewing it for free. The BBC estimates that the new proposal will cost it £250m a year, requiring some cuts but no channel closures.

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