Monday 17 June 2019

Sir Michael Palin blames ‘bad deal’ between BBC and Government for licence cuts

The 76-year-old has a career with the broadcaster dating back to the 1960s.

Sir Michael Palin is made a Knight Commander of the Order of St Michael and St George by the Duke of Cambridge (Yui Mok/PA)
Sir Michael Palin is made a Knight Commander of the Order of St Michael and St George by the Duke of Cambridge (Yui Mok/PA)

By Sam Blewett, Press Association

Sir Michael Palin has criticised an austerity-era “bad deal” between the Government and the BBC for the cuts to free licences for all over-75s.

The 76-year-old on Wednesday voiced his displeasure that cuts to the BBC’s finances have been burdened onto viewers.

There has been a fierce backlash over the broadcaster’s move, with an online petition soaring past 330,000 and criticism from politicians across the spectrum.

Sir Michael told the Press Association: “I know that the BBC did a pretty bad deal, I think four years ago, saying it would take over the licences and I hoped somehow that would somehow go away and it hasn’t gone away.

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Sir Michael Palin in his Monty Python heyday with his co-stars (BBC/PA)

“It’s cost them a lot of money and they’re now realising that it’s not going to be changed and they’re going to lose an enormous fraction of their programme making.”

He added: “I just wish it wasn’t at the expense of the people who now have to fork out for their licence.”

The deal Sir Michael was referring to was in 2015 when the BBC agreed to help finance austerity spending cuts by shouldering the cost of the free licences for all people aged over 75.

As part of the charter agreement, the BBC would shoulder the burden of paying for free licences by June 2020.

After that, only households with someone over the age of 75 who receives pension credit will be eligible for a free TV licence funded by the BBC.

Around 3.7 million pensioners are expected to lose out.

Sir Michael, who has had a long career with the broadcaster, starting in his Monty Python days in the 1960s, defended the necessity to back a broadcaster like the BBC.

“I think the BBC still make good programmes and I think it’s very, very important to support a public service broadcaster,” he said.

Press Association

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