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Black and white TV is not completely out of style in the UK

Key Points
  • 7,000 households in the UK still use black and white tv sets. 
  • It is required by law in the UK to have a TV licence in order to watch or record live television programs. 
A family watching a television program in which an elephant performs tricks. 
Lambert | Archive Photos | Getty Images

Although black and white television is ancient history for most tech-savvy consumers, more than 7,000 households in the UK still use the monochromatic TV set.

The UK's licensing body, TV Licensing, revealed that curious fact last week, underscoring that despite the overwhelming migration to streaming and high-definition TV units, a small subset of consumers in Britain still watch TV the old fashioned way.

A licence is required by law to watch or record live TV programs on any channel using any type of device, including a TV, laptop, tablet and cellular device. According to TV Licensing's index, the most black and white licenses can be found in London at 1,768; followed by the West Midlands with 431 licenses, and Greater Manchester with 390.

Jason Hill, a spokesperson for TV Licensing, couldn't provide an exact reason for why some TV watchers still preferred black and white. However, he told CNBC that "over half of the UK's TVs now connect to the internet, so it's interesting that more than 7,000 households still choose to watch their favorite shows on a black and white telly."

Since its beginnings in 1967, many people have switched over to color transmissions. Yet as of the year 2000, there were still 212,000 households that watched shows using their black and white transmissions, according to TV Licensing data. Over the years this number has since declined drastically, but there are still people in the world who enjoy their monochromatic television.

One advantage of having a black and white licence over a color licence is that it's significantly cheaper. A black and white license holder is paying £50.50 a year (nearly $65), when compared to a color licence holder who is paying three times that price at £150.50 (or over $192) a year.

Meanwhile, its clear that at least some watchers simply enjoy the colorless experience. Jeffrey Borinsky, a London-based television and radio technology historian, raved about his monochromatic televison to TV Licensing.

"There are hundreds of collectors like myself who have many black and white TVs. Who wants all this new-fangled [high-definition TVs], satellite dishes or a screen that's bigger than your room, when you can have glorious black and white TV!"

Although many stores no longer sale black and white tv sets, many are still offered on sites such as eBay, and at vintage shops around the world.

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