“You can listen to the radio”

Thursday July 23rd 2020

Owen Thompson

Midlothian MP, Owen Thompson, asks his question in the House of Commons

Written by Midlothian View Reporter, Luke Jackson

Owen Thompson MP has slammed the UK Government after being told that over 75s who cannot afford a TV license should listen to the radio instead.

The Media Minister John Whittingdale MP was responding to a question from the Midlothian MP about the impact of scrapping free TV licenses for over 75s, particularly at a time when they have been so important as sources of public health information during the coronavirus lockdown.

The exchange came during an urgent question on BBC cuts, which also includes the loss of 70 jobs from the BBC news team and 450 staff from their regions and nations programming, including 60 staff from BBC Scotland.

Mr Thompson said

“The assault on public service broadcasting from this Tory Government continues despite Coronavirus showing how important it is as a source of information in a crisis.

“It’s an astonishing decision to make millions of older citizens who have paid into the system all of their lives stump up for TV licenses, particularly at a time when millions relied on their TV for updates on Covid19.

“Age UK say many older people will have to miss out on other essentials to pay their TV license, or get rid of their televisions altogether. Now we see the UK Government’s response – listen to the radio instead.

“Quite apart from the fact that this ignores many people who are hard of hearing, a TV provides comfort and company during lockdown, especially for over75s, more than half of whom live alone. It’s a crucial link to the outside world, particularly for those who are less mobile and more vulnerable to the virus. This can’t simply be replaced by a radio.

“With billions found for other projects, it is evidence yet again – as we see with the WASPI women – that this government just doesn’t prioritise pensioners.”

The question to The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) Minister John Whittingdale MP and his response can be viewed HERE.

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