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When will the over-75s free TV licence end?



The rules around TV license fees are set to change (Picture: Getty Images)

This year, the over-75s will go from having free TV licences to have to pay for them if they’re not on pension credit.

The decision to scrap free TV licenses for that age group was made last year in June, ina move that then-Prime Minister Theresa May said left her ‘very dissapointed.’

However, the date from which the over-75s were going to have to begin paying has changed…

When will over-75s have to pay for their TV licenses?

Over-75s were originally going to have to start paying for their TV licenses from June 1, with free licences for the elderly available only to those on pension credit.

However, because of the coronavirus crisis, the BBC and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport issued a joint statement saying that this change will come into effect in August instead.

The statement said: ‘The BBC and the Government have been discussing the national coronavirus situation. Changes to the TV licence for people aged over 75 had been due to come into effect on 1 June. But during this time we do not want anyone to be worried about any potential change.

‘The BBC’s priority over the coming period will be to do everything we can to serve the nation at this uniquely challenging time. As the national broadcaster, the BBC has a vital role to play in supplying information to the public in the weeks and months ahead.

‘Recognising the exceptional circumstances, the BBC Board has therefore decided to change the start date of the new policy.

‘Our current plan is to now bring it into place on 1 August. We will of course keep the issue under review as the situation continues to evolve.’

Meanwhile, BBC Chairman Sir David Clementi said: ‘The BBC board has decided to delay changes to over 75s licence fees. We are in exceptional circumstances.

‘Now is not the right time. We are fully focussed on delivering our services to the public at this difficult time.’

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Emily Maitlis ‘echoes feelings of millions’ in Newsnight monologue



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Emily Maitlis has been praised for ‘echoing the feelings of millions’ with a powerful opening Newsnight speech on the Dominic Cummings scandal.

The journalist welcomed viewers to last night’s show by stating the PM’s top adviser had ‘made those who struggled to keep to the rules feel like fools, and allowed many more to assume they can now flout them’.

In the 53-second monologue, she said the political strategist was known for always getting the public mood, so should recognise he had provoked one of ‘fury, contempt, and anguish’.

It comes as a man who says he saw Mr Cummings and his family walking by the River Tees on Easter Sunday is interviewed by police.

Ms Maitlis said: ‘Dominic Cummings broke the rules, the country can see that, and it’s shocked the government cannot.

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‘The longer ministers and prime minister tell us he worked within them, the more angry the response to this scandal is likely to be.

‘He was the man, remember, who always got the public mood, he tagged the lazy label of “elite” on those who disagreed.

‘He should understand that public mood now. One of fury, contempt, and anguish.

Dominic Cummings gave a statement from the garden of 10 Downing Street on Monday afternoon.(Picture: Reuters)

‘He made those who struggled to keep to the rules feel like fools, and has allowed many more to assume they can now flout them.

‘The prime minister knows all this, but despite the resignation of one minister, growing unease from his backbenchers, a dramatic early warning from the polls, and a deep national disquiet, Boris Johnson has chosen to ignore it.

‘Tonight, we consider what this blind loyalty tells us about the workings of Number 10. We do not expect to be joined by a government minister, but that won’t stop us asking the question.’

Ms Maitlis’ opening remarks began trending on Twitter after they were broadcast, and were commended by hundreds who claimed she had ‘perfectly summed up public feeling’ towards the fallout.

One wrote: ‘Emily Maitlis has a penetrating way with words. And the guts to use those words in the service of the public.’

Another put: ‘Emily Maitlis encapsulates the extraordinary arrogance of #Cummgate in under a minute.’

However, others more sympathetic towards Mr Cummings insisted she did not speak for them.

One person called out the newreader for ‘absolutely disgraceful comments’, while another said it was a ‘witchhunt’.

Emily Maitlis has been praised for her speech – but some have blasted the BBC for ‘not remaining impartial’ (Picture: BBC)

Meanwhile, many Twitter users were left questioning the BBC’s commitment to impartiality.

One wrote: ‘If he did indeed break the rules, then that is a matter for the police who will decide and until they do, it’s not for Emily Maitlis to impose her judgment on the public. Impartial my a**.’

Another called for Ofcom to step in, saying: ‘Emily Maitlis opens ‘Newsnight’ with a monologue of her opinions.’

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Springwatch’s Chris Packham shares emotional coronavirus message



Chris Packham shared a heartfelt message to introduce Springwatch (Picture: BBC)

Springwatch’s Chris Packham opened the new and unusual series of the show with an emotional message about coronavirus.

This series, the presenters are filming separately from areas around their homes as the UK lockdown continues.

However, they’re keen to share heartwarming stories to help people through the uncertain times.

‘This is a year like no other we’ve ever encountered,’ he began. ‘Everyone is having to adapt to unprecedented times.

‘People are grieving, struggling, and battling with the most tragic situations that they will ever encounter in their lives.

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‘This series is not to take away from any of these realities.’

He continued: ‘But there is one thing that has happened this year that has offered solace to everyone – a real message of hope. The power, the therapy, the existence of the natural world.’

In one heart-wrenching moment, he admitted: ‘There’s not a morning I don’t wake up and think, “This isn’t happening.”’

However, he went on to say: ‘There’s never been a more important time for us to take the time to appreciate the wildlife outside our window.’

Fans were left emotional from the message, with one writing: ‘An uplifting and poignant introduction there by Chris…what a man!’

Michaela Strachan is having to sit this series out (Picture: BBC/Glenn Dearing)

‘Chris Packham is making me quite emosh on #Springwatch,’ another added.

‘What an emotional start to #Springwatch,’ one more said, while another summed up everyone’s feelings and said: ‘#springwatch is on. All is calm for a while.’

Presenter Steve Backshall opened up about how different this series is set to be, explaining on Good Morning Britain: ‘I think we’re feeling our way through this.

‘One of the joys of Springwatch normally is that you all work together from one central hub. Instead, we’re doing all of that on Zoom, but the positive aspect is we will be coming from all over the country.

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‘All of us have had that intimate focused look on a narrow area we probably wouldn’t have done.’

Springwatch was confirmed to be returning in May as planned last month, despite the coronavirus pandemic – but host Michaela Strachan will be missing from the series.

Springwatch returns Wednesday at 8pm on BBC Two.

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BBC ‘preparing’ to scrap free TV licences for over-75s from August 1



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The BBC is ‘preparing’ to end free TV licences for over-75s from August 1, the broadcaster’s director-general has said.

The free licences were initially due to be scrapped on June 1, but the process was delayed until August as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Once the scheme is changed only low-income households where one person receives pension credit will be eligible for free access to the service.

Appearing on the Andrew Marr show this morning, Lord Tony Hall said they were ‘preparing for an August launch’, but added that the decision would also be reviewed again ‘nearer the time’.

He then went on to describe how the coronavirus pandemic had demonstrated how important the BBC is to the public, arguing that it requires licence fee funding to survive.

The move was delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic (Picture: PA)

He said: ‘I think what the Covid crisis has proved is that people in their droves, 94% of the population of the UK, have turned to the BBC for either information, education or entertainment in this crisis.

‘So the question is – and it’s not a question that needs to be answered until 2027 when the charter comes to an end – what’s the best way of funding that universally, so that everybody gets something that we can all share.’

Free TV licences for the over-75s were previously provided by the government, but in 2017 the responsibility was passed to the BBC as part of its last licence fee settlement.

The broadcaster then announced the end of the free licence fee scheme in 2019, with Boris Johnson among those questioning the move.

Lord Hall said plans for the scheme will be reviewed again (Picture: PA)

If the plan goes ahead in August, around 3,700,000 households who previously received a free licence will have to start paying £157.50 a year for a colour television and £52 a year for a black and white television.

The BBC previously said if it had to fund licences for all over-75s, it would have meant unprecedented closures, including the end of BBC Two, BBC Four, the BBC News Channel, the BBC Scotland channel, Radio 5 Live, and a number of local radio stations.

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