MP JACOB Young has pushed for “widespread” BBC licence fee refunds in Parliament calling the situation “not acceptable” after thousands were left with no TV following the Bilsdale TV mast fire.

Mr Young, MP for Redcar, said he has consistently supported The Northern Echo’s campaign for Licence Fee refunds to reflect the lack of service experienced by many after the Bilsdale transmitter fire in August last year.

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Speaking in the House of Commons, Mr Young pressed the Minister of State and Media, Data, and Digital Infrastructure, Julia Lopez MP, about the lack of BBC licence fee refunds.

Mr Young mentioned the “growing support” for the scrapping of the BBC licence fee, also known as “axing the TV tax.”

He said: “The Minister will know there is growing support for scrapping the licence fee, or 'axing the TV tax', not least in Redcar and Cleveland where the Bilsdale mast fire left people without a TV reception. 

"Yet most weren't provided with any sort of refund.

"Does the Minister agree that this is not an acceptable situation and that if this was a satellite, a broadband or phone provider, a refund for time without service, and in some cases even further compensation, would have been expected?"

Replying to Jacob Young Ms Lopez said: “I thank him for highlighting the plight of his constituents after that mast fire in Bilsdale.

"I've been working very closely with Arqiva to try and restore those services urgently and I believe 98% of households have now had their Freeview restored but I believe the BBC has also been issuing refunds, they've got something like 11,000 refunds now.

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"But if he wishes to take it up with them, I would recommend it."

However, following their exchange in the House of Commons, Mr Young reportedly explained that the BBC had only refunded a small number of customers left without service for one full month or more.

Writing to the Minister he argued that the BBC were only offering refunds to those without a coverage for over a month and unable to watch BBC iPlayer.

He said: “But for my constituents, many were left without coverage for over three weeks but less than a month.

"I have no issue with Arqiva, I think they’ve worked as hard as they can in the circumstances.

"I just view it as a matter of principle that if I were left without mobile phone coverage, my mobile provider couldn’t say to me, 'Well we’ll only give you a refund if you’re a month without coverage and you don’t have access to email'.

"The BBC constantly get away with murder because they’re the BBC. Meanwhile the license fee climbs, more people are dragged into their net, and they carry on as normal."

The Northern Echo’s campaign currently has the backing of charity Age UK, Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen, and a number of North East MPs including MP Jacob Young, MP Alex Cunningham, MP Andy McDonald, and MP Kevin Hollinrake.

Mr Young added: “I remain very disappointed that BBC Licensing has, so far, still refused to offer refunds to many of the customers who were left without service due to the Bilsdale Transmitter fire in August.

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"Once again, I thank the Northern Echo for their ongoing campaign and I can promise to keep pushing the issue wherever possible."


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