Black and white TVs still in use

Nearly 30 households in Bedford still watch black and white televisions.

Monday, 14th January 2013, 11:17 am

UK wide figures by TV licensing show that more than 13,000 homes prefer to view their favourite shows in monochrome.

And in Bedford 28 black and white licenses are in force, 45 years after the advent of colour transmissions.

The use of black and white sets continues despite the switch to digital television last year and an increase in the sale of flat screen televisions, tablets, laptops and smart phones over the Christmas period.

Victoria Sykes, spokesman for TV Licensing in London and the South East, said: “It’s remarkable that with the digital switchover complete, 41 per cent 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.”

However the number of black and white television licenses is declining sharply. In 2000 212,000 were issued, in 2003 the figure was 93,000 and at the start of 2013 just 13,202 licenses were running in the UK.

Of these, 76 were in Luton and 31 in Milton Keynes.

Television and radio technology historian John Trenouth said that the number of black and white licenses is a tiny percentage of the 25 million licensed viewer in the UK.

This is partly because they are very hard to replace and need to be used with a set top box to receive digital signals.

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. There will always be a small number of users who prefer monochrome images, don’t want to throw away a working piece of technology or collect old TV sets.”

A black and white license costs £49 while a colour license costs £145.50.