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Very disappointing – Age Concern on TV fee

News | Published:

AGE CONCERN in Guernsey is disappointed that the BBC wants to scrap free TV licences for most over-75s.

Pensioner Alan Morton said the television is a necessity for a lot of older people and would like to see the licence fee scrapped. (Picture by Peter Frankland, 24921956)

About 3,000 households in the island claim the concession.

From next June the BBC plans to make over-75s pay the TV licence fee, in the UK the exception would be for those who live in a household where at least one person receives pension credit.

The broadcaster currently helps pay for free TV licences for over-75s in Guernsey and would cover the full cost from 2020/21. Separately, the States provides free TV licences for over-65s who are claiming income support.

Guernsey Age Concern chairman David Inglis said the BBC announcement was very disappointing.

‘Most over-75s in the island are living off a limited income source, either their pension or their savings, so this is a loss,’ he said.

‘Television can be a big support for many older people, it’s a way for them to stay connected, and it helps people deal with loneliness, which is such a big issue.

‘Our members love the company and the socialising at our day centres, but the television is often a source of relaxation and entertainment in members’ homes.’

Guernsey pensioner Alan Morton said it was terrible news.

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‘The BBC has nothing that’s interesting, I find it quite boring,’ he said.

‘I’m more into ITV, Channel 4 and Netflix. Definitely ITV has better presenters and programmes. I like Emmerdale and Coronation Street – I’ve been watching those programmes for years.

‘I don’t mind the adverts on ITV and Channel 4, I just go and make a cup of tea and come back.’

Until recently Mr Morton was a volunteer for Age Concern at the St Peter’s day centre.

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‘Television is a necessity for a lot of older people because some of them can’t go out and do what they used to do,’ he said.

‘Many are on their own, and when you’re on your own the television is good company, it’s something to keep you occupied.’

Mr Morton would like to see the licence fee scrapped, or more help from the States.

‘I begrudge having to pay a licence when I don’t watch the BBC and I’m sure there’s hundreds or thousands over here who feel the same, I pay it every month but I don’t think we should have to. If we have to pay it, surely they can make a special rate for OAPs, or maybe the States could step in and subsidise it.’

From April this year the cost of a colour TV licence went up to £154.50.

The BBC argued that making over-75s pay would be the only way to avoid closing channels and making substantial cutbacks. It warned that the likes of BBC Two, BBC Four, the BBC News channel would otherwise be at risk.

Policy & Resources said it was in discussions with the BBC about the planned change.

‘It is important that all BBC licence fee payers, whether UK or Guernsey resident, are effectively treated the same way under the proposed new policy.’

Helen Bowditch

By Helen Bowditch
News reporter

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