Old-fashioned TVs surviving in age of digital broadcasts

Nearly 100 people in the Capital are still registered for a black and white television licence, despite it being nearly 50 years since colour transmission began.

Figures released by the TV licensing service show that although the demand for non-colour licences in the UK has been consistently declining, 794 households across Scotland are still watching their favourite shows in fifty shades of grey. The biggest demand for black and white is in Glasgow, where 256 homes would still need some extra help to follow a televised snooker game. Next was Edinburgh, with 97, followed by Dundee with 30 and Aberdeen with 19.

Fergus Reid, spokesperson for TV Licensing Scotland, said: “It’s remarkable that with the digital switchover complete, 41 per cent of UK households owning HDTVs and Britons leading the world in accessing TV content over the internet, more than 13,000 households are still using a black and white telly.”

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The Museum of Communication in Burntisland has an array of black and white television sets dating back from the 1930s and spanning through to their demise in the 1980s. Jim McLauchlan, who ran TV shops in Shandon and 
Slateford for decades, now carries out restoration work on the museum’s TVs.

He said: “I sold my last black and white TV in the ’80s! But not everyone is enamoured with TV, so I’d imagine some people have just held on to old sets if they’re not particularly interested in the medium. Also some are maybe just happy to listen to the likes of the news or soaps – so a black and white licence is fine if they are interested in sound only. Other people simply don’t like to throw things out if they are still working.

“However, because no analogue signal is available now black and white sets have to be converted to receive signals. They have to be run off a digibox and channels have to be changed via this.”

The retired engineer actually has a black and white television at his home in Slateford – although he only uses it as a monitor to test signals as part of his restoration work.

In 2000 there were 212,000 black and white TV licences issued in the UK, but by 2003 that number had shrunk to 93,000 and in 2006 the number was less than 50,000. At the start of 2013, just 13,202 black and white licences were in force across the UK.

Some black and white TVs may require a colour licence if they can receive and record programmes in colour, for example when using a Personal Video Recorder connected to a black and white TV.

The cost of a black and white TV Licence remains frozen at £49 until 2016. A colour licence costs £145.50.