The BBC is to scrap free TV licences for people over the age of 75 who do not receive pension credit, it has been announced.
Some 1.5 million households that include someone over 75 claiming the benefit may still be eligible for a free licence.
It means that up to 3.7 million pensioners will have to begin paying from June 2020.
That was when the BBC was due to take over responsibility for funding the free licences from the government, which had paid for the perk since it was introduced by New Labour in 2001.
In its 2017 election manifesto, the Conservative Party promised to maintain pensioner benefits.
The BBC’s director-general, Tony Hall, said: “It would not be right simply to abolish all free licences.
“Equally it would not be right to maintain it in perpetuity given the very profound impact that would have on many BBC services.
“This decision is fairest for the poorest pensioners. It protects those most in need. And importantly, it is not the BBC making that judgement about poverty. It is the government who sets and controls that measure.
“We also need to look at how the level of the licence fee is set in the future. The last two settlements have been made in the dark and without proper consultation.
“It is vital that future decisions are evidence-based and made after proper consultation and scrutiny. We need to find a better way.”
Funding the full free licence scheme would have cost the BBC some £750m a year, or about one-fifth of its budget, the corporation said.
“We expect this would mean the closures of BBC Two, BBC Four, the BBC News channel, the BBC Scotland channel, Radio 5 Live, and a number of local radio stations, as well as other cuts and reductions,” it said in a statement.
The decision followed a consultation of 190,000 people.
A government spokesperson said: “We’re very disappointed with this decision – we’ve been clear that we want and expect the BBC to continue this concession.