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

Manchester surprising hotspot for greyscale telly

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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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