The BBC has announced that it is to delay its proposed TV licence fee changes for the over-75s until August as a result of the coronavirus situation.
Free TV licences for up to 3.7 million people had been due to be scrapped on 1 June, but that has now been put back to 1 August.
These are ‘exceptional circumstances’ and ‘now is not the right time’, BBC chairman Sir David Clementi said.
He added: ‘We are fully focused on delivering our services to the public at this difficult time.’
The BBC has also confirmed that it will foot the cost of the two-month delay.
Last year, the corporation announced that only low-income households where one person receives the pension credit benefit will still be eligible for a free licence from June 2020.
On Monday, amid the growing spread of the coronavirus, the BBC and the government issued a joint statement saying they “do not want anyone to be worried about any potential change” at the current time.
The statement went on to say “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.”
Free TV licences for the over-75s have been provided by the government since 2000, but responsibility for the provision was being passed to the BBC as part of its last licence fee settlement.