The BBC's social responsibility should be to continue to fund the Licence for the 75 & overs
Lord Naseby tabled his question a month ago to bring into the open the possible impact of the BBC deciding in 2020 not to continue the scheme, which started in 2000, that any individual 75 or over is entitled to a concessionary TV licence.
We need to remind ourselves that the BBC is a ‘Public Service Broadcaster ‘ respected the World over and much loved by the UK population as a whole. It is not a Public nor indeed a Private Company. It does not have to work within the same constraints that affects quoted companies who must make a return on their capital invested and indeed sufficient return to pay shareholders.
I am conscious that the BBC has over its life faced technological challenges. Today it faces the challenge of ‘streaming’ and tough competition from Netflix and increasingly Amazon. There is little doubt this challenge if met will be expensive & the response depends who the BBC links up with.
The question I have to ask is The BBC viewing the possibility of charging the 75’s & over a heaven-sent opportunity to fund this challenge; basically, a soft option. It could be an option but only if today’s BBC return on Capital is already good and it has itself come to the conclusion that there are no other sources of revenue.
However we all noted recently some eye watering increases in salaries for a significant number of senior employees. Increases that few if any in the private Sector would or could match.
I am also aware that historically the BBC some 40 years ago dug its heels & refused the suggestions from the Peacock Committee that it should consider taking advertising. The BBC only relented a bit with the BBC World Service when the Foreign Office decided to stop its funding of it.
Today when I go to visit my family in the Cayman Islands I view the BBC World Service with advertisements & nobody complains.
At home viewers may have noticed that a programme scheduled for 1hr is now only about 57 or 58 minutes. The missing two or three are taken up with ‘Promos’ for other BBC programmes. Since the gap is already there why not take Advertisements. I worked in an Advertising Agency where the most popular and effective commercials were 30 seconds. Just think for a moment of the ‘Ad’ value to a Client appearing in ‘Strictly’ & other successes even if restricted to end or start.
Finally what about the elderly should they pay £150 or a 50% discount or move it to only the 80+’s . I say NO. The over a million affected see their TV as their main source of Companionship. They are not used to the digital world where the BBC spends a lot of its resources
Parliament has challenged the Corporate Sector to show Social responsibility whilst Government helps the needy with Housing & Fuel costs. The BBC's social responsibility should be to continue to fund the Licence for the 75 & overs.
Lord Naseby is a Conservative member of the House of Lords.