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Digital TV Switchover Date Set

Aug 17, 2007
The date has been set for the first Digital TV switchover in the UK. The analogue TV signal will be turned off from 17 October in Whitehaven area of western Cumbria. First to go will be BBC2 before being followed by the remaining analogue channels on November 14. The move means that the 25,000 residents of Whitehaven will have to switch to Digital TV by those dates in order to keep receiving TV.

In order to receive Digital TV people will need to purchase a Freeview set-top box or subscribe to satellite, cable or broadband TV in order to keep viewing TV. New equipment, installation and support will be given to people over 75, those with significant disabilities and the blind. The assistance will cost 40 pounds, or will be free for eligible people who are also on pension credit, job seeker's allowance or income support.

Letters are being sent to everyone in the area explaining how the Digital TV switchover will work and what they need to do to keep viewing TV. On screen messages will also appear on analogue channels from May warning viewers that the analogue signal will be turned off in the next few months.

The Digital TV switchover will then be carried out region by region, with the rest of the Borders the next to have its analogue signal switched off, beginning at the end of 2008. By the end of 2012 the analogue signal will have been turned off across the whole of the country meaning everyone must have switched over to Digital TV in order to keep viewing TV.

Broadcasting minister Shaun Woodward said: "We've been fully engaged with preparing Whitehaven for a long time and it will - I underline that - be a success. Nobody in Whitehaven will be left behind because it is critical everybody understands it is happening."

However, concerns have been raised as only 27% of households in the affected area, almost 7,000 homes, have yet to switch to digital. This is largely because Whitehaven cannot yet receive Freeview and so satellite has been the only option for residents.

There have also been concerns that many people, particularly pensioners, do not know enough about the Digital TV switchover and that more needs to be done for them. Age Concern's director general Gordon Lishman said: "We will continue to champion the need for additional support for all older people who need it, not just the over 75s, and for a range of technology to be made available through the scheme. Measures must also be put in place so that vulnerable people are not exploited by rogue traders during the switchover."
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Guide to TV discusses television options for residential customers, primarily for the UK market. Find out more about getting the best option for your home at Guide to TV .
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