switch over

Features editor Are you ready for digital TV? Next spring, the analogue signal will be switched off and viewers must make sure all TVs in their home are 'digital-ready'.

The switchover for the Sandy Heath transmitter group, which includes Northamptonshire, will see the five analogue TV channels switched off permanently, but the Freeview digital service will be boosted to reach more than 966,000 households across the region.

Thousands of homes previously in digital blackspots such as Luton, Kimpton and Dallington Park will be able to receive Freeview channels for the first time.

The first stage (BBC Two analogue off) will happen on March 30 and the remaining analogue channels will go on April 13.

There is help available with the costs of switchover for those on lower incomes through the Switchover Help Scheme.

Peter Monteith, Digital UK's regional manager for the Anglia region, said: "Today's announcement paves the way for a new era in broadcasting for viewers in the east of England.

"We are preparing for the end of the analogue TV era and the dawn of a fully digital age in which everyone can enjoy extra choice and easier recording.

"Digital UK and the Switchover Help Scheme will ensure that people know about this important change and that advice and practical support is available for those who need it."

Here we answer some of your questions.

Why is the analogue signal being switched off?

Households in many parts of the UK are currently unable to receive
Freeview services. Switching off the existing analogue broadcasting system will create the capacity necessary to extend coverage to the whole country.

Broadcasting in digital format is also a more efficient way to transmit television signals and will free up airwaves for new services such as ultra-fast wireless broadband and mobile television.


What do viewers need to do?
Switchover is a two-stage process. At stage one, BBC Two will cease broadcasting in analogue and the second stage will see the remaining analogue channels permanently switched off and replaced with additional digital services. All Freeview, BT Vision and Top Up TV viewers will need to retune their equipment at both stages.
Viewers must ensure their TVs can receive a digital signal to continue receiving television services after switchover. Virtually any TV, even black and white ones, can be converted with a digital box. Anyone buying new TV equipment should look for the 'digital tick' logo.


What are the different ways to get digital TV?
There are three main options for going digital:
n Convert your existing TV with a digital set-top box, such as Freeview or BT Vision
Get a service like satellite, cable or broadband TV installed
Get a new TV with digital built-in
A postcode checker on the Digital UK website (digitaluk.co.uk) offers options.


How much does digital TV cost?
Freeview digital boxes start from around £25, while digital TVs start from around £150. Subscriptions for satellite or cable TV start from around £10 per month, or buy a Freesat box from BBC or ITV from £49, with an £80 installation fee.


What channels will viewers get?
If you choose to get Freeview, viewers will get BBC One, BBC Two, ITV1, C4 and Five plus a range of digital channels and services free via an aerial. Channel availability depends on where you live and which transmitter you get your signal from. Most households will be able to receive more than 40 Freeview channels via an aerial.


How do I retune my Freeview, BT Vision or Top Up TV box?
These instructions are a guide - each product works slightly differently. The viewer's instruction manual will explain the process for each particular product.
Switch on your digital box or digital television
Press 'menu' on the remote control
Select 'set up' or 'installation'
Select 'first time installation' (sometimes called 'factory reset, full retune or 'default settings')
Press "OK" if your equipment asks if you want to delete all your channels - this is normal.
Channels will be automatically installed. This may take a few minutes; your equipment may shut down and restart.
For more information on retuning, viewers can visit digitaluk.co.uk/retuning.


I can't afford to pay for this, what can I do?
There is a Switchover Help Scheme which has been established by the BBC to offer practical assistance at the time of switchover to approximately seven million households.
Eligible households will get equipment to convert one TV, installation and demonstration of the equipment and follow-up support, There is a £40 charge for this, unless you are on income support, jobseeker's allowance or pension credit.
You are eligible for the scheme if you:
Are 75 or over
Have lived in a care home for six months
Receive certain disability benefits
Are registered blind or partially sighted.

Posted Date: 14th Jun 2010

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