UK - Beginning of the end of analogue TV

Monday, October 6th, 2008
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Five million homes to make switch to digital in 2009

The process of turning off the UK’s 72-year-old analogue terrestrial television system¹ will start one month from today, Digital UK, the independent organisation leading the change has confirmed.

The first large-scale switchover starts on 6 November and will involve 52,000 homes in the Scottish Borders. During 2009, a further five million UK households across the Border, West Country, Wales and Granada TV regions will have analogue services replaced with digital terrestrial TV (Freeview).

More than 65 switchovers are scheduled to the end 2012, making free digital TV via an aerial available to virtually all homes. Approximately a quarter of homes are currently outside Freeview coverage.

Latest research² indicates steadily growing public awareness of switchover. In the three months to June, Digital UK found 89 per cent of adults questioned had heard about switchover. The research also found that 47 per cent of adults had a detailed understanding of switchover and 31 per cent knew the year when their region will switch. Separate research also indicates that nearly nine-out-of-ten UK households now have digital TV on their main set.³

David Scott, Chief Executive of Digital UK, said: “After years of planning, we are now just a month away from the start of this landmark event in UK broadcasting. Forty years on from the introduction of colour, we are taking another giant step forward by ensuring the benefits of digital television are enjoyed by the whole country.”

Switchover will see analogue terrestrial television signals switched off region by region. This will release airwaves allowing Freeview services to be broadcast for the first time from approximately 1,100 local transmitters.

When switchover is complete, Freeview coverage will match that of the existing analogue network, at 98.5 per cent of UK households. Viewers can also choose to get digital TV via other means such as satellite or cable.

Digital Switchover Dates By TV Region:

Border        2008/9      Central    2011
West Country  2009        Anglia     2011
Wales         2009/10     Meridian   2011/12
Granada       2009        Yorkshire  2011
West          2010/11     London     2012
STV North     2010        Tyne Tees  2012
STV Central   2010/11     UTV        2012

1. The BBC Television Service began on 2 November 1936.
2. Source: Digital UK/Ofcom Switchover Tracker: GfK/NOP interviewed 3,444 adults from April – June 2008.
3. Research by Ofcom suggests that 88 per cent of UK households have digital TV on at least on set (source: Ofcom Digital TV Progress Report, Q2, 2008).