Tuesday, 13 November 2007

Switching off analogue tv in UK

From The Guardian: tonight Whitehaven (north England) will be the first place in the UK to have only digital terrestrial tv 
(DVB-T standard) in radio spectrum

Whitehaven analogue switch-off nears
Chris Tryhorn, Tuesday November 13 2007

The Cumbrian town of Whitehaven tonight becomes the first place in the UK to switch off its entire analogue TV signal.

Analogue viewers in Whitehaven lost BBC2 four weeks ago and the three remaining channels - BBC1, ITV1 and Channel 4 - are set to go dark at 2am tonight.

Switchover body Digital UK estimates that 500 homes in the area have yet to convert their equipment for digital transmission.

That is a reduction from the estimated 2,000 analogue homes that were still to make the switch when BBC2 shut down on October 17.

The number of homes without digital - 2% of the local population - is in line with Digital UK's predictions and tallies with the experience of other countries that have already switched over, such as Sweden and Finland.

Digital UK has also said that 77% of Whitehaven households' secondary TV sets have converted to digital.

"I would urge anyone still relying on analogue television to take action today or risk being left with a blank screen," said the Digital UK chief executive, Ford Ennals.

"We estimate that around 500 households still need to take action to prepare for switchover.

"On top of that we know that social housing providers and the help scheme are still waiting for some householders to get in touch to arrange delivery or installation. Nevertheless, we believe that the vast majority of people in Whitehaven are well prepared and are looking forward to receiving the extra channels.

Since BBC2's analogue signal was turned off, Whitehaven's residents have been able to receive six digital channels through the Freeview terrestrial service: BBC1, BBC2, BBC3, CBBC, BBC News 24, and Channel Five. They had previously been unable to receive Five as an analogue channel.

After tonight's switchover, there will be a total of 20 Freeview television channels to watch, still only half the number available in many parts of the country, as well as 10 BBC radio stations and four digital text services.

The newly available digital TV channels will be BBC4, CBeebies, BBC Parliament, BBCi, ITV1, ITV2, ITV3, ITV4, CITV, Channel 4, Channel 4+1, E4, More4, and the Community Channel.

Whitehaven's switch-off is the first stage in a nationwide process that will take until 2012.

The rest of the Border TV region is set to switch next year, with the remaining 13 regions to follow in a staggered rollout.

London, Ulster and Tyne Tees will be the last regions to lose the analogue signal, in 2012.

Whitehaven was chosen to take the lead because of its technical suitability and because Freeview had not previously been available in the area.

The switch was accompanied by an intensive local marketing campaign and a targeted help scheme to assist the over-75s, blind people and disabled people.


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