This process Ė named Digital Switchover Ė involves switching over the UKís current analogue television broadcasting system to digital, as well as ensuring that people have adapted or upgraded their televisions and recording equipment to receive digital TV. Any TV set or video recorder thatís not converted to digital when the switchover takes place will no longer receive TV programs.
New research indicates that nearly one-third of the UK's 60 million TV sets are still analogue. The joint research by Digital UK and Ofcom suggests that while most viewers have converted their main set to digital, there remain approximately 18m analogue TVs in use. David Scott, Chief Executive of Digital UK, said switchover would boost Freeview coverage, providing viewers with a greater choice of ways to convert sets to digital TV.
Will my digital equipment continue to work at switchover?
At switchover, the Freeview signal will be improved to ensure viewers get clear pictures which are less susceptible to interference and picture break-up. This change in format will occur in line with the switchover timetable and is approved by Ofcom on a region-by-region basis.
TV equipment which carries the "digital tick" logo is compatible with the improved signal but some early digital boxes (in particular ONDigital and ITV Digital devices) and digital televisions are not.
Owners of affected digital boxes are advised to replace them with a product carrying the "digital tick". Affected televisions can be upgraded using a digital box.
A list of affected products is available from the Digital UK website (see link )
The Switchover Help Scheme can help you make the switch to digital TV.
We can help you convert your TV to digital if you:
Are aged 75 or over, or
Have lived in a care home for six months or more, or
Get (or could get) certain disability benefits, or
Switching to digital doesnít need to be expensive. The price will vary depending on the digital choices you make. The things to consider are:
The number of TVs in your home you choose to convert.
Whether you choose to pay one upfront cost or pay monthly for a subscription service.
If you choose to buy a standard digital box, an HD digital box, an integrated digital TV (iDTV), or a digital TV recorder (which will also convert your TV to digital).
If you choose to subscribe additional channels (e.g. movies and sports) or services (e.g. broadband, telephone or HD TV).
Most importantly, you do not have to buy a new television set unless you want to, because all current TV sets, with very rare exceptions, can be converted by connecting to one of the above options.
Did you know?
7 million eligible people are expected to qualify for special help through the Help Scheme.
There are a number of different digital TV service providers. Availability will vary depending on where you live. Enter your postcode and house number in the link postcode checker to find out which services are available in your area.
Britain is to broadcast high definition programming on its free-to-air digital TV service by 2012, in time for the Olympics, under a plan to upgrade the technology by the media regulator.
Ofcom had already signalled its intentions to launch the service on the Freeview platform and on Thursday set out its plans after consulting with the major broadcasters.
Under the system, viewers with the correct equipment should be able to receive up to four new high-definition channels as digital switchover is completed by 2012, with three appearing in certain regions from 2009.
One of the slots will be used by the BBC Trust and the other three slots will be awarded to commercial public service broadcasters after a bidding process. Those bidding could include ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5.
Ofcom said the applications would be judged on their efficient use of spectrum, the contribution to public service broadcasting and a contribution to the range and diversity of TV.
The transition to HDTV has been called a landmark move for the industry, similar to the shift from black and white to colour, and terrestrial broadcasters want to be able to compete with the sharply improved TV picture offered by pay-TV firms BSkyB and Virgin Media.
The regulator expects the plan to also benefit the economy, as it will make better use of the valuable spectrum reserved for broadcasting.
The History behind Digital Switch Over
In September 2005, it was announced by the Government that the digital switch over would take place between 2007 and 2010. This is happening throughout the whole of the United Kingdom and will take place TV region by TV region.
What is the difference between Digital and Analogue Broadcasting
Analogue broadcasting is the way our televisions currently receive and record information. It is referred to as analogue because the picture and sound that we receive on our televisions are 'represented' with electrical signals/voltages. This is different from the way that digital signal television operates where images and sound are sent as compressed data (they are coded into a series of '1's and '0's) which is then unscrambled by a digital box. The signal is sent by cable, satellite or through the air to your aerial
What are the benefits of digital switch over?
Compared to analogue broadcasting, digital signal provides you with extra channels free of charge. There is also the option to subscribe to additional channels, new features available and access services
Why is the Digital Switchover happening?
Currently in the UK the majority of households have already chosen to go digital, as Digital TV provides a better quality viewing experience. However, there are still some households which cannot get the full range of digital TV services available free through an aerial, and some households canít even access channel Five through their aerial. After the Digital Switchover the restriction to these services in areas like this will decrease making it fairer for everyone. In addition to this the Digital switchover will also help ensure that the UK maintains their status as world leaders in broadcasting technology.
What equipment will I need for the digital switchover?
It is not essential that you replace your existing television sets to be able to receive digital services; however, you will then need some addition that will connect to your existing television.
Digital Terrestrial TV: viewers will need a digital set top box or a new television with built in digital adapter (known as an integrated digital TV, or IDTV).
Some viewers may also need to replace their aerial.
Digital Satellite TV: viewers will need a satellite receiver and dish, provided by the satellite broadcaster.
Digital Cable TV: a connection to a cable system and indoor decoder box is provided by the cable company.
Advantages to Buying a Television with Integrated Digital TV / Freeview:
Receives all Digital TV / Freeview channels
Has a digital box built in - no need for an additional box.
Just connect it to your aerial for full Digital / Freeview service.
Advanced TV listing guide
Only one remote control
Ready for digital switchover
A digital TV comes with Digital TV box / Freeview box already inside
Digital TVs come in widescreen plasma or LCD format, too.
AdAdvantages to Buying a DVD or Hard-Drive Recorder with Integrated Digital TV / Freeview:
Receives all Digital TV / Freeview channels.
One touch recording.
Advanced TV listing guide.
Selected models allow you to pause live TV
Get a digital TV recorder with a twin tuner.
You can watch one channel while recording another.