Is Boris listening? Macron vows to ditch TV licence fee in risky bid to win votes

Emmanuel Macron 'wants to avoid the debate' says Jacobelli

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The French President told voters at a rally in Poissy, outside Paris, that he will be scrapping the country’s broadcasting licence fee in addition to his pledge to lower taxes if re-elected. Mr Marcon said the move aimed to help French people who struggle to make ends meet.

But the incumbent president was criticised on the left for risking “serious implications” for the independence of public media.

Socialist senator David Assouline said it would be “dangerous demagoguery”.

Far-right candidate Marine Le Pen had already proposed scrapping the licence fee and privatising public television and radio.

Former TV pundit Eric Zemmour also pledged the move in his presidential manifesto and accused Mr Macron of “copying” him.

He said: “The way he’s copying my manifesto, he’ll soon be suggesting ending immigration.”

The TV licence fee in France is €138 (£115) a year.

Mr Macron’s pledge risks infuriating left-wing voters, particularly those who supported Jean-Luc Melanchon in the first round of the election, who are much needed for the French President to beat Ms Le Pen.

TV licence fees are a hot topic in election campaigns.

In the UK, it costs £159 per year.

A BBC TV licence is needed if people watch live programmes on any channel.

Boris Johnson also promised he would scrap the licence fee if elected back in 2019, but so far the Prime Minister has failed to keep his word.

Campaigners are calling for free TV licences to be reinstated for all over 75s – many of whom have no other connection with the outside world.

Last week Dennis Reed, director at Silver Voices, warned the cost of living crisis would force pensioners to ditch their TV, cutting them off from the world.

Pensioners could be entitled to Pension Credit from the Department for Work and Pensions (DPW) if they are earning less than £177.10 per week and have reached state pension age.

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Pension Credit is a gateway benefit to additional help like a free TV licence and money towards energy bills and council tax.

Yet nearly a million (850,000) British households are thought to be missing out.

A TV Licensing spokesperson said: “We want to help customers remain correctly licensed and we continue to work with groups throughout the UK which support people who fall into financial difficulty.

“There are payment plans available to help spread the cost, and anyone 75 or over who receives Pension Credit is eligible to apply for a free licence paid for by the BBC”.

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