TV licence figures show 13,000 black and white sets still going strong

10 Jan 2013

Faulty TV

Britain, birthplace of the Luddites, still boasts a small number of die-hard technology refuseniks, if the latest figures from the TV Licensing (TVL) authority are to be believed.

According to a TVL report released today more than 13,000 homes across the UK are still using black and white sets to watch Eastenders or Coronation Street.

“It’s remarkable that with the digital switchover complete, 41 percent of UK households owning HDTVs and Britons leading the world in accessing TV content over the internet more than 13,000 households still watch their favourite programmes on a black and white telly,” cooed Stephen Farmer, spokesperson for TV Licensing.

Indeed, thanks to the digital switchover, analogue black and white sets will not be able to receive a signal at all. So to watch monochrome programming, householders are presumably shelling out to buy digital set-top boxes to hook up black and white sets – after all, as TVL points out, if homeowners have a colour-capable digital recorder, they need a colour licence.

All of which has got some people misty-eyed about the lengths some people will go to avoid the onward march of progress.

“There will always be a small number of users who prefer monochrome images, don't want to throw away a working piece of technology or collect old TV sets,” opined John Trenouth, a TV and radio technology historian.

Of course, there is one other explanation for the continued popularity of black and white licences.

Maybe there are simply 13,000 students up and down the country that have worked out they're less likely to get visited by a TV detector van if they buy a black and white licence rather than not buy one at all – saving themselves £100 a year in the process.

Google's Schmidt returns from North Korea urging internet reform

10 Jan 2013

Eric Schmidt Testify

Google chairman Eric Schmidt returned from his jaunt to North Korea urging the communist country to extend web freedoms to its citizens.

Schmidt's delegation had been in North Korea advocating for its leaders to allow more citizens access to an open internet. As it currently stands very few in the country have the clearance and resources to use the web.

The Associated Press reported Schmidt and others toured North Korea and met with its leaders over the past few days. The Google exec also visited the capital, Pyongyang.

Schmidt has been a major proponent of a more open internet for many years. He and fellow Googler Jared Cohen even have a book on the subject set to come out in April.

While his calls for change are admirable, North Korea doesn't look to change its outlook on the internet anytime soon. The country's leader, Kim Jong-Un, has yet to make any indication that he is considering bringing a more open internet to the country.

Censorship and a struggling economy mean it's difficult for many to get online. As it currently stands only the wealthiest and most connected in the country have access to the web.

Even if those problems were able to be worked out, North Korea would have to contend with diminishing relations with other countries. North Korea is currently facing potential UN sanctions following unauthorised tests of nuclear weapons.

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