Sunderland communities and MPs have their say on BBC's TV licence changes

Piers Morgan argued the BBC should be forced to do a U-turn over its decision to scrap free TV licenses for over-75s

However, Jim continued on to say "The cost of these changes is rarely seen by those on the Tory front bench or at the top of the BBC, changes like these directly affect peoples lives and impact on their everyday freedoms".

The petition, which was started just before Christmas, smashed its target of 100,000 signatures yesterday, after the BBC announced that free TV licences for over-75s will be means tested from 2020. "Those were the words of the director-general of the BBC after the deal in 2015".

Following a public consultation, the BBC decided that means-testing pensioners and giving free licences only to those on pension credit is the fairest way. "I've met lots of older people during my time visiting, for Age UK, and I do know that a lot of people's lifeline is watching the telly".

He said: "The least this country can do Maureen frankly, you're here to fight for those who aren't getting pension credit and the vast majority of the 3.7million pensioners over 75 in this country will not get a free licence".

He added: "Everyone likes to bash the BBC but they do a wonderful job".

The BBC presenter said he is "ashamed" at how older people are being treated and he is supporting the charity Age UK's SwitchedOff campaign to save free TV licences for those over 75.

Mansfield's MP Ben Bradley said the decision is "wrong", and that the BBC had let their viewers down.

Why has the Government passed on what is essentially a welfare benefit to a media broadcaster?

The Conservative Party's 2017 general election manifesto pledged to protect pensioner benefits, including the free licence, for the duration of this Parliament, which could technically run until 2022.

"I live on my own and I rely on the TV".

"It's those who are struggling to get by and can't even afford the basics that I'm anxious about".

"I think they still can do better and I intend to use the forthcoming period to persuade them to do so". They should be held accountable for this poor decision and made to reverse it.

More than 90% of Echo readers have said the TV licence should still be free for all over-75s.

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Meanwhile, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn tweeted that pensioners had spent their lives contributing to society, so providing over-75s with free TV licences "is not too much to ask".

At present, nearly four million pensioners receive free licences.

He said that he does not "entirely blame the BBC", adding that he thinks the Government "forced their hand", before pledging to donate his entire salary from this year's BBC documentary series Animal Park to help over-75s "who have no way of paying for a licence". Now, millions of pensioners could be arrested for failing to pay fines.

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