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UK still has more than 13,000 black-and-white TVs

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More than 13,000 people in the UK still watch television on a black-and-white set, even though colour pictures have been available for 46 years.

Despite the UK's switch to digital television last year and the introduction of flat-screens, high definition, 3D and even ultra HD sets, some British homes are still unwilling to part with their black-and-white TVs.

Old TV

© Rex Features / Everett Collection

Couple watching tv

© stock.xchng



The number of black-and-white licences has understandably declined significantly over the past 12 years. In 2000, there were 212,000 monochrome licences issued, but that shrank to 93,000 in 2003 and less than 50,000 in 2006.

But according to figures released today by TV licensing, there are still 13,202 black-and-white TV licences in force in the UK in 2013.

London has the highest black-and-white TV penetration, at 2,715 licences, followed by Birmingham (574) and Manchester (413).

Stephen Farmer, spokesperson for TV Licensing, said: "It's remarkable that with the digital switchover complete, 41% of UK households owning HDTVs and Britons leading the world in accessing TV content over the internet more than 13,000 households still watch their favourite programmes on a black-and-white telly."

Britain led the way in Europe with the first regulator colour television broadcasts starting on July 1, 1967, on BBC Two.

Black and white TV from the 50s

© Rex Features / Image Broker



John Trenouth, a television and radio technology historian, said that the 13,202 still active monochrome licences "may sound like a lot", but it is just a tiny percentage of the 25m licensed viewers in the UK.

He feels that cost may be an issue for those sticking with black-and-white, as a monochrome licence has been frozen at £49 a year until 2016, considerably cheaper than the £145.50 colour licence.

"The numbers of black-and-white TV sets in regular use has fallen dramatically over the last few years, hastened by the fact that it's now almost impossible to replace them and by the need to buy a suitable set top box to continue to use them after digital switchover," he said.

"The continued use of black-and-white TV sets, despite the obstacles, is more likely to be driven by economics than by nostalgia. For low-income households the black-and-white licence fee is an attractive alternative to the full colour fee."

Trenouth said that there will also be a small number of users who actually prefer images, or just don't want to throw away a working piece of technology.

"Maybe these will still be around in 10 years from now when the number of black-and-white licences will have fallen to a few hundred - about the same number of black-and-white sets that were in use on the opening night of BBC television 70 years ago," he said.

The top 10 black-and-white cities:

London - 2,715
Birmingham - 574
Manchester - 413
Glasgow - 256
Liverpool - 185
Leeds - 183
Bristol - 180
Nottingham - 161
Belfast - 143
Sheffield - 118

TV Licensing warned that some black-and-white TVs may require a full colour licence if they can receive or record programmes in colour using a personal video recorder (PVR).

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