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Black-and-White TV sets still thrive in the UK

Posting in Finance

The BBC is widely regarded for its technology prowess, but nearly 13,000 households in the United Kingdom are still opting to watch television in black-and-white. Be it nostalgia, neo-luddism, or thriftiness - the old medium is hanging on for certain segments of society.

Some people actually do prefer monochromatic images, but the primary motivation appears to be cost, according to news reports. An annual license for a black-and-white set is just £49 compared to £145.50 for color television. Every household is required to pay for a license, which finances government services. Households in London, Birmingham and Manchester have the greatest concentration of vintage "tellies."

There were an average of 2.35 persons per dwelling in the 2011 census of the UK, so that's just around 30,000 people with black-and-white sets. When put into perspective, black-and-white viewers are the exception not the rule, accounting for below 1% of its total 2011 population of 63.2 million royal subjects.

I thought that it was novel when my father hooked up the "Odyssey" to an old basement black-and-white set during the late 70's (imagine my friends' surprise when we had to correct the vertical adjustment 'knob'). It's absolutely amazing that old sets have persisted for so long in the UK considering how the BBC has been a pioneer and world leader in Internet broadcasting.

Take that hipsters - London's thrifty set is way more vintage than you are. If only BBC still aired old Dr. Who broadcasts like the one below. That might be worth taking a trip down to the basement.

(image credit: http://toweroftechnobabble.com)

— By on January 13, 2013, 1:08 PM PST

David Worthington

Contributing Editor

David Worthington has written for BetaNews, eWeek, PC World, Technologizer and ZDNet. Formerly, he was a senior editor at SD Times. He holds a business degree from Temple University. He is based in New York. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure