The corporation has fired off 525,223 letters to over-75s warning them to arrange to pay for their licence or apply for a free one if they are entitled. The letters were sent out by the of November last year, just as Britain went into a second lockdown and a time of huge uncertainty about whether pensioners would be able to see family members at Christmas.
The letters were headed “a reminder to set up your next licence” and while telling recipients they had “bit more time” to make arrangements they also said it was important the pensioners took action or could have their licences cancelled.
The BBC scrapped free licences for millions of over-75s last August in controversial cutbacks which mean only those on Pension Credit are exempt from the fee.
Figures show around 700,000 households have still not signed up to the new scheme.
Dennis Reed, of pensioners’ campaign group Silver Voices, said: “It just shows their complete lack of sensitivity and empathy with the plight, particularly of older people, who’ve been isolated in their own homes for a very long period of time.”
There was also a furious backlash on social media.
One person tweeted: “The harassment by TV Licensing is unacceptable.”
READ MORE: BBC licence fee will NOT be axed
Another said: “The more you hear about the BBC the more I hate them.
“Some of them over-75s may well have lost a lifelong partner to Covid.”
And another said: “Cannot stand the BBC. Resent having to pay for my licence just so I can watch Sky.
“I don’t watch a single channel BBC have, don’t listen to their radio or read their woke lies in the media.”
A TV Licensing spokesman said: “Over 80 percent of older customers have made arrangements since August and we continue to process applications.
“In this time we have sent one reminder to those left explaining the simple steps to take.
“We are well aware of the ongoing challenges people are facing because of coronavirus which is why we’re giving people more time to get set up.”