It's no secret that a black and white TV licence is a lot cheaper than a colour one, in fact it's only £49.50 while the full-colour is £147. But apparently there are still 8,000 of these licences issued currently, which suggests that either a lot of people have very old TVs. Or they're telling porkie pies.
So why do we think there are so many liars out there? Well black and white TVs haven't been produced for many, many years. There were never mass-market LCDs, plasmas or OLEDs that produced only a black and white image. While there have been niche LCDs that do only mono pictures, they're a rarity. There certainly were a lot of black and white CRTs, but new cathode ray tube screens haven't been produced for decades now.
Of course you can go on eBay and source a black and white screen if you want. They're almost all tiny though, which might make them useful for a kitchen or caravan, but not for general use. And what's more, you can't just claim to have a B&W TV, pay less for the licence then watch iPlayer on a tablet - you need to cough for a colour licence under those circumstances.
So who are these black and white TV owners? Well, at a guess some will be blind users who get a 50% discount. The cost reduction applies to both colour and B&W licences, so if you see very little then a B&W TV licence may well be all you need - and it's just £24.75. This discount only applies to the blind though, not simply anyone with a visual impairment. What's more, to get the black and white TV you have to call the TV licence people, presumably so they can sniff out any bullshit.
The biggest cluster of black and white licence owners are in London, making up 1,596 of the total. Birmingham, Manchester and Glasgow are next on the list, with numbers in the hundreds. It is not, clearly, a segment of licence fee ownership that's likely to be going for many more years. It may suit those who have little interest in TV and have just kept and old Black and White set for the news, but it's also open to abuse.
Numbers have been falling for some time, there were about 28,000 of these licences in around 2009. It was 13,000 in 2013 and now we're down to 8,000. Perhaps it's time to get rid of the thing and use the money saved from running the scheme to fund lower pricing for blind and partially sighted people.