Campbeltown condemns scrapping of free TV licences

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There are about 9,600 people over the age of 75 currently living in Argyll and Bute, according to the National Records of Scotland’s 2018 mid-year estimate.

For almost two decades, the UK government has funded free television licences for those aged 75 and over. However, it would seem that approximately two-thirds of pensioners receiving free television are set to lose the subsidy.

On June 10, the BBC announced that the current licensing scheme would change substantially, starting in June 2020. This decision came after a calculated move made by the government in which financial responsibility for the scheme was passed over to the broadcaster.

Changes to the scheme will see the offer of free licensing for over-75s being scaled back to only include households in which at least one person receives pension credit.

A statement made by BBC chairman Sir David Clementi defended the BBC’s decision to cut the licence fee concession. Sir David said: ‘Copying the current scheme was ultimately untenable. The scale of the current concession and its quickly rising cost would have meant profoundly damaging closures of major services that we know audiences – and older audiences in particular – love, use and value every day.’

While the BBC seems confident in its decision, it appears to have evoked some strong opinions from people around Campbeltown.

Eva Wolfram, 54, from Campbeltown, said: ‘It’s disgraceful! It’s clear that some older people rely on their TV and it brings them a lot of comfort. This is a very bad decision.’

Andrew Richards, 39, a visitor to Campbeltown, said: ‘What an absolute joke. How can the BBC say that cutting licences is “crucial” when they hand their presenters a massive pay rise every other week? It doesn’t seem fair to me.’

Peter McCallum, 54, from Campbeltown, added: ‘Why should older people with enough disposable income be entitled to free television? Households with an over-75 receiving pension credit will still receive free TV.’