I REFER to the front page report headlined “BBC to refund licence payers” (Echo, Aug 28) and advise that the belated, limited, offered refund for the outage of the Bilsdale transmitter is totally unacceptable.

I believe that compensation on an individual basis is required in addition to a waiver of the licence fee in some cases. The BBC outage has disproportionately affected the elderly. The BBC should acknowledge this fact and act accordingly.

The BBC is in breach of contract and its charter. Under the Broadcasting Agreement, the BBC is required to “take all reasonable steps to minimise the risk of the loss of, or a significant disruption to, the broadcast and distribution of BBC radio and television services”. The ability to switch over to backup equipment should be a minimum requirement for our national broadcaster.

The TV licence is a contract with the BBC, renewable annually for a full year of broadcasts. The BBC is in breach of a year of broadcasts. A year’s fee should be refunded as a minimum The BBC should be treated as, and act like, other statutory undertakers, and it should offer a prompt response when vulnerable customers suffer outages, interim services, and compensation.

My mother-in-law is 96-years-old. She does not have a ‘smart’ television and all her reception is via the Bilsdale mast. Due to her age and Covid restrictions, she has been virtually housebound and has relied greatly on the TV. Had we known from the start of the current debacle, due to BBC ineptitude, the problem would persist for at least a month, we would have installed satellite TV (and charged BBC for the installation). As it is, my mother-in-law has lost interest in the programmes she has enjoyed, uninterrupted, for years and we are fearful of the effect on her health and wellbeing.

The BBC offer is derisory. I believe that, morally, my mother-in-law and all over 75-year-olds in the affected area are entitled to a waiver of the licence fee for the rest of their lives.

Alastair PG Welsh, Aycliffe Village.