‘Inappropriate’ to make BBC fund TV licenses for over-75s

Mark Thompson, former director general of the BBC. Picture: PA
Mark Thompson, former director general of the BBC. Picture: PA
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A former BBC boss has said it is wrong that the broadcaster has to bear the cost of TV licences for over-75s.

Mark Thompson, who was director-general from 2004 until 2012, described it as “welfare” and said it is “totally inappropriate”, in an interview with the Guardian newspaper.

The BBC agreed to take over responsibility for funding TV licences for over-75s from the Government earlier this year.

Mr Thompson said the corporation faces more difficulties than it did when he was at the helm.

He told the Guardian: “In 2015 the political circumstances are very different and it is much tougher for the BBC.”

But he said his remarks were not a criticism of director-general Tony Hall and the current management, telling the newspaper: “You have to be in the room and I am not going to second-guess anything that Tony and the current leaders of the BBC have done.”

The BBC’s Royal Charter, due to expire in 2016, is currently under Government review.

Speaking about the charter renewal process, he said: “I am just very anxious at the end of all the questioning that we come up with the right answers. And for me the right answer is a strong, properly funded BBC of scale and scope.”