Somebody has broken a longstanding implied contract that guaranteed over 75s free television viewing, ie without buying a licence to view. It can only be the BBC or the government. Over 75s are innocent, and have been duped, which is not unusual for easy targets.
In the Telegraph, Charles Moore writes a compelling report as, being without a TV but in receipt of 76 letters from Crapita TV Licencing, he is under suspicion of evasion.
“Over75-year-olds are worried now that, from the first of this month, payment for their television licences has fallen due. They should not be, says the TV Licensing website: they will be “supported through the changes” and “TV Licensing will write to all licence holders aged over 75 with clear guidance about how to pay” says the BBC, which is a polite way of saying, “We know where you live.”
“But do they? If I were in the “at risk” category, I would not, Heaven forfend, advocate non-payment, but I might lie low. After all, the free-licence privilege has existed for 20 years, so the BBC’s database must itself be pretty elderly. Since it has not been demanding money of the old since the year 2000, it presumably has no accurate way of telling whether the people it has sent free licences to are still alive. You are supposed to say on voter registration forms if you are over 75, but it would surely be an abuse of data privacy if this information were transferred to the BBC. If you are dead, even the BBC cannot get £157.50 out of you.
“In my flat in London, where I do not have a television, I receive a steady stream of letters in brown envelopes from TV Licensing. My current pile adds up to 76 of them. They often carry threats on the envelope (“Investigation has started in your area”), but I refuse to answer or even open them, since I do not see why I should be compelled to inform anyone that I do not have a television.
“Despite the threats, nothing ever happens to me. TV Licensing has no legal right, contrary to what it implies, to enter your property. I wonder how, in the era of Covid-19, the BBC proposes to chase the old whom it suspects of evasion. Will it dare get a warrant to knock down the front doors of 90-year-olds wearing masks, and then drag them to the magistrates’ courts? Surely not. Old people can scarcely be blamed if they sit tight and wait for the Corporation to fulfil that promise to “help them through the changes”.
Or will the lust for bonuses paid to the BBC Licencing Stasi for every new licence paid overcome the so-called “support through the changes”?