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Forget 3D: 13,000 UK homes still watch TV in black and white

Manchester surprising hotspot for greyscale telly

13,000 households in the UK still watch TV in black and white, telly licence fee collectors have revealed.

In an age when TV sets are often internet-enabled with high-def plasma screens and 3D capabilities, some people obviously like to keep it simple.

And cheap too. At £49, a black-and-white TV licence is cheaper than the standard licence, saving users £96.50 a year on a UK colour licence. But the 13,202 hold-outs will most likely face problems when the nation's analogue TV transmitters are switched off and digital broadcast takes over: older colourless tellies require an old-fashioned RF analogue input and will need a digital set-top box with an RF modulator.

Manchester is the UK's black-and-white TV hotspot. Despite being next to Salford - "Tech City of the North" and the BBC's new TV hub - Manchester has the highest density of greyscale sets for its population, 0.08 per cent to be precise. It's more than the 0.06 per cent of Birmingham dwellers who have a black-and-white licence. Or the 0.03 per cent in London, going on population stats from the 2011 census.

John Trenouth, a television and radio technology historian says it's likely to be down to the costs:

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.

But the trend is down. Black-and-white watchers make up just a tiny fraction of the 25 million TV licences bought last year. In 2000 there were 212,000 black-and-white TV licences issued. It's also near impossible to replace a greyscale tube if it goes bust.

Stephen Farmer, spokesman for TV Licensing, added that Britons lead the world in accessing TV content over the internet. ®

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