Speaking on Jeremy Vine on 5, the English radio presenter said the BBC should offer a free public service aimed at the entirety of the community, not just at young people, as he lashed out against the corporation’s decision to scrap free TV licences for over-75s. Mr Parry blasted: “Newspapers are a commercial operation and they carry adverts on the pages of their newspapers to carry out the production of their newspapers.
“That’s the same with commercial television like the one we’re broadcasting on now.
“But I’m saying the public service that the BBC should deliver to the country does not include this mad idea of chasing a younger audience.
“Why are they chasing the younger audience?
“Nobody who is young – and Jeremy, your children will back this up – they don’t bother watching any television let alone the BBC.
“So why on earth are the BBC chasing a young audience?”
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Over-75s who receive the free TV licence, which costs those who pay £157.50, will have to receive pension credit.
BBC chairman Sir David Clementi said that “implementation of the new scheme will be Covid-19 safe”, adding the “BBC could not continue delaying the scheme without impacting on programmes and services”.
“Critically, it is not the BBC making that judgment about poverty. It is the Government who sets and controls that measure,” Sir David said.
The BBC has been under “severe financial pressure due to the pandemic”, he added.
He went on: “I believe continuing to fund some free TV licences is the fairest decision for the public, as we will be supporting the poorest, oldest pensioners without impacting the programmes and services that all audiences love.”
Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said he feels “let down” by the BBC over its decision to end the free TV licence for over-75s.
Speaking at the Downing Street coronavirus briefing on Thursday, he said people “up and down the country” would feel the same way about the BBC’s move to begin means-testing in August.
The new scheme was originally meant to start on June 1 but was delayed and kept under review because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The BBC has said that continuing the universal entitlement would hit “programmes and services”.
Mr Dowden said: “I very much regret the decision that the BBC has taken. We gave the settlement to the BBC back in 2015.
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“They said that it was a good settlement, and I regret that they couldn’t find efficiency savings in order to avoid having to impose the licence fee on the over-75 in the way that they have set out.”
He added: “I feel let down that the BBC haven’t funded this.
“I’m sure people up and down the country will feel let down that they haven’t funded it.
“Our manifesto said we thought that they should fund it, I’ve made that position clear to the BBC and I’ve not changed my mind on that.”
He also confirmed a consultation into decriminalising the licence fee would see the results published in the summer.
Boris Johnson’s official spokesman said the Prime Minister disagreed with the move.
“This is the wrong decision. We recognise the value of free TV licences for over-75s and believe that they should be funded by the BBC,” the spokesman said.