14 February 2019
VLV, which promotes the interests of listeners and viewers, responded this week to the BBC consultation on whether it should continue to provide free TV licences for households which include a person who is 75 or older. The charity’s response comes having consulted with its members on their views. In response to a survey, 81% disagreed with the existing concession if it is funded by the BBC.
Colin Browne, Chairman of the VLV, said ‘It is clear that VLV members overwhelmingly oppose the BBC paying for free TV licences for the over 75’s. They support some form of help for the poorest elderly, but they believe that since this is a welfare payment the question of whether it is continued should be a decision for the government and the government should fund it. The BBC is an unelected body and should not make decisions about or fund welfare policies’.
VLV has strongly opposed the last two BBC funding settlements, agreed in 2010 and 2015, which in 2020 will have led to a 37% cut in the BBC budget if the BBC funds free TV licences for those over 75. These cuts are going to inevitably result in the BBC having to reduce TV and radio services which are popular among audiences across the UK. VLV proposes that the BBC, government and Parliament should seriously consider whether this move is in the best interests of the country and UK society as a whole.
VLV members were outraged when the announcement was made that the BBC would be taking on the cost of the free licences in 2015. At the time it said, ‘The independence of the BBC should be at the heart of public service broadcasting in the UK. We believe that independence was severely compromised by the manner and nature of the last two licence fee negotiations, which were carried out in secret, with no public consultation nor reference to licence fee payers.’
In response, the VLV is proposing the establishment of a statutory body, the Licence Fee Body, to help determine the level of future BBC funding settlements. This would help to underpin the independence of the BBC, including protection from political decisions by the Government of the day to ‘top slice’ the TV licence fee and divert it to fund other projects.
VLV’s full response to the BBC Consultation on the provision of free licences for the over 75’s and a report on its membership survey can be found here.
Notes to Editors
Press contact: Colin Browne
Tel: 07733 103800 or 01285 740433
Sarah Stapylton Smith (Tuesday to Thursday during office hours)
VLV, The Old Rectory Business Centre, Springhead Road, Northfleet, Kent, DA11 8HN
VLV Office: 01474 338716
1. VLV has written responses to the many consultations about the future of the BBC. All submissions can be read here
2. The Voice of the Listener & Viewer welcomes new members. Details on how to join can be found on the VLV web site archive.vlv.org.uk
3. The Voice of the Listener & Viewer (VLV) is an independent, non-profit-making membership association, free from political, commercial and sectarian affiliations, working for quality and diversity in British broadcasting content. VLV represents the interests of listeners and viewers as citizens and consumers across the full range of broadcasting issues. VLV is concerned with the structures, regulation, funding and institutions that underpin the British broadcasting system. VLV is a charitable company limited by guarantee.