Thousands in UK still watching black and white TV, new figures show

Fifty-one years after the advent of colour programming, some have refused to switch over

Thursday 08 November 2018 13:36
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The youngest black and white sets are over 20 years old
The youngest black and white sets are over 20 years old

Thousands of people are still watching television in black and white in the UK, new statistics show.

Fifty-one years after the advent of colour programming it has been revealed that 7,161 households have not switched over to colour transmissions.

London has the largest number of black and white sets at 1,768, followed by West Midlands with 431 monochrome licences and Greater Manchester with 390.

London-based television and radio technology historian Jeffrey Borinsky said hundreds of collectors have many black and white televisions.

“Who wants all this new-fangled 4K Ultra HD, satellite dishes or a screen that’s bigger than your room when you can have glorious black and white television?” Mr Borinksy said.

“Thirty years ago, you could still buy black and white televisions, mainly small portables, for as little as £50 and it’s interesting to know that some of people still have them.”

TV Licensing spokesman Jason Hill said irrespective of what television you use, you still need to be covered by a license.

“Over half of the UK’s TVs now connect to the internet so it’s interesting that more than 7,000 households still choose to watch their favourite shows on a black and white television,” Mr Hill said.

“Whether you watch EastEnders, Strictly or Question Time in black and white on a 50-year-old TV set or in colour on a tablet, you need to be covered by a TV licence to watch or record programmes as they are broadcast.”

Regular colour broadcasts began in July 1967 with the Wimbledon tennis tournament – three weeks ahead of West Germany.

The number of black and white licences issued each year has been in steady decline since.

In 2000, there were 212,000 black and white TV licences in force but by 2003 that number had shrunk to 93,000. By 2015, the number had dipped below 10,000.

Agencies contributed to this report

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