black and white vintage television sets

Black and white TVs still watched by over 7,000 UK residents

Image credit: Dreamstime

Black and white televisions are still owned and watched by over 7,000 people in the UK according to the TV Licensing authority.

Despite the first broadcasts of colour programming taking place in 1967 and many televisions now supporting ultra-HD resolution, HDR or 3D technology, a small number of people are still clinging onto their old sets.

One reason people may be sticking with their older sets is the license fee costs just £50.50 per year for black and white versus £150.50 for colour.

Nevertheless, the number of people still using monochrome sets has fallen by nearly 50 per cent since 2013 when over 13,000 black and white licenses were issued. At the turn of the century 212,000 were still watching in monochrome.

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

TV Licensing spokesman Jason Hill said: “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 telly.

“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.

“You also need to be covered by a TV licence to download or watch BBC programmes on iPlayer, on any device.”

Regular colour broadcasts began on BBC2 in July 1967 with the Wimbledon tennis tournament - three weeks ahead of West Germany.

London-based television and radio technology historian Jeffrey Borinsky said: “There are hundreds of collectors like myself who have many black and white TVs.

“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 TV?

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

Full nationwide colour broadcasting in the UK was not achieved until 1976, when BBC East (Norwich) became the last region to adopt colour for regional broadcasts and locally-produced programmes.

Stations in North America lagged behind despite hosting the first colour broadcasts in the early 1950s. One of the last television stations in North America to convert to colour was a Pittsburgh station called WQEX (now WINP-TV).

It only started broadcasting in colour on October 16, 1986 after its black-and-white transmitter, which dated from the 1950s, broke down in February 1985 and the parts required to fix it were no longer available.

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