Although people over 75 will naturally be annoyed to have to pay their television licence fee once more — unless they are poor enough to qualify for pension credit — the decision will, in fact, empower them. Gordon Brown should never have let them off payment in the first place since they are the greatest users of television and radio in the country and are mostly not the poorest either.
So long as they were getting the services free, they had no power over their content. They have had to endure ever more abasement before the young, propaganda for women’s football, preaching about Greta Thunberg, and the removal of people of their age from the screen. Now that they will have to pay £154.50 a year, they will carefully consider whether it is worth it, and therefore become a pressure group which the BBC cannot so easily scorn.
There will be two other effects. The first will be that large numbers of tottering elderly persons will be hauled before the magistrate for non-payment, exciting public rage against the Corporation. The second will be a great technological advance among the white-haired as they learn from their grandchildren how to watch all sorts of interesting things through all sorts of interesting media without having to pay anything at all to the BBC.
This article is an extract from Charles Moore's Spectator Notes, available in this week's magazine.