New UK figures for black and white licences

New figures released today by TV Licensing show that after more than 50 years of colour transmissions, over 7000 black and white TV Licences are still in force across the UK, although numbers are steadily declining.

Precisely 7,1611 UK households are still watching television via black and white TV sets, rather than enjoying modern classics like Bodyguard, McMafia and Killing Eve, in full colour.

Despite an increase in the use of smart televisions, as well as tablets and smart-phones to access TV content, a surprising number of UK households are spurning 21st Century technology in favour of nostalgic monochrome TV sets.

According to this year’s figures, London leads the way with 1,768 black and white licences, followed by West Midlands with 431 monochrome licences and Greater Manchester with 390 monochrome licences.

The number of black and white licences issued each year has, however, steadily been declining. In 2000 there were 212,000 black and white TV Licences in force, but by 2003 that number had shrunk to 93,000. By 2015, the number had dipped below 10,000.

Jason Hill, spokesperson for TV Licensing, said:

Over half of the UK’s TVs now connect to the internet2, 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.

Jeffrey Borinsky, a London-based television and radio technology historian, added:

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!
30 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 of people still have them

A licence is needed to watch or record live TV, on any device including a laptop, tablet or mobile phone. You need to be covered by a TV Licence to watch or record live TV programmes on any channel or device, and to download or watch BBC programmes on iPlayer. Find when one is needed at www.tvlicensing.co.uk/info.


The 2018 Black and White TV index

The number of black and white licences held in 10 English regions at September 2018
Mono licences in Force September 2018 in regions of the UK
West Midands
Greater Manchester
West Yorkshire
County Antrim
County Tyrone
South Yorkshire

1. TV Licensing: Mono licences in force, 30 Sep 2018.

2. 2018 Ofcom Media Nations report (PDF opens in a new window)

General information about TV Licensing is available in other languages: