In 2015, the analogue signal will be switched off and all radios will run digitally. This is not a new announcement but the government accepts that not only are many people unhappy about the plan, but that many don't even know it's going to happen. Which is why they have launched the ‘Radio Amnesty'.
Their initiative, which has been compared to the car ‘scrappage' scheme, allows people to trade in their old wireless to get a discount on a new DAB model. The scheme runs from 22 May to 26 June. High-profile personalities such as Stephen Fry, Noddy Holder and Gabby Logan have joined the campaign and will feature in a series of on-air promotions.
But what does this all mean for you? The BBC explains that participating UK retailers will offer up to 20% off for those who trade in their analogue devices. "The old sets will be reconditioned and sent to southern Africa to give young people access to radio programmes," they explain, while those beyond repair will be recycled.
The Guardian says Argos, Comet, John Lewis and Tesco have signed up for the month-long ‘Radio Amnesty', which will be promoted in a nationwide advertising drive throughout June, in conjunction with major events such as the World Cup, Wimbledon and the Glastonbury festival.
"The aim of the campaign, launched by Digital Radio UK, is to help achieve a government target of 50% of all radio listening being via digital services, including radios, TV or the internet by 2013," they explain.
Meanwhile, The Sun, under the headline ‘Wireless Is More', suggests many UK residents could be sitting on a goldmine with their vintage devices and reveals which brands are the most lucrative. ‘Cash In The Attic' star Paul Hayes comments: "Antique radios can do very well at auction, so please don't throw away or trade in your old set without checking what it could be worth."
Of course, this amnesty does not solve some of the existing problems that hamper the future of digital radio. The Daily Express coverage features a posting from a worried reader who insists DABs will not work abroad because not all destinations use the same digital signal.
Meanwhile, amid all the fanfare about its scheme, the government seems no closer to a solution for one significant factor: the unreliable and flaky performance of the digital signal. Until this is remedied, why should the millions of radio listeners in the UK take the plunge and scrap their beloved old wireless?
Beware Free HD comes at a cost
Tue Jan 19 02:35PM
Millions of Freeview viewers face paying for new equipment to watch the free HD channels to be launched by the BBC and other broadcasters ahead of this year's football World Cup.
The Daily Mail reports that millions of Freeview boxes that have already been sold in the UK are incompatible with the new high definition transmission system.
Viewers who still want to watch the upcoming Freeview HD channels will therefore need to upgrade to a new generation of boxes.
Even those who have recently bought an HD-ready TV with a built-in digital receiver could be affected and forced to upgrade as well, costing them at least £170.
Technology industry expert Barry Fox told The Mail: "To watch Freeview HD, you will need either a completely new telly, which has a built-in HD receiver, or a new box that will receive the HD signals. (…)
"I think it is monstrous that people have not been told the truth about the technology. I don’t know whether this is incompetence on the part of Freeview, a lack of understanding, or deliberate.
"Freeview’s job is to educate the public about changes that are coming. I think their failure to do so is nothing short of despicable."
Around 20 million Freeview receivers have been sold in the past five years, as well as over 7 million TV sets with built-in digital receivers.
High definition channels are, however, available to watch via pay TV with either a Sky or Virgin Media package.
The Freeview HD 'con': Even viewers with the latest TVs will need to pay £170 for high definition channels
Millions of viewers who use Freeview to watch digital TV have been warned their equipment won’t work with a raft of new high definition channels.
Even those who have recently bought an HD-ready television with a built-in Freeview decoder face paying at least £170 to upgrade.
The BBC and other broadcasters are launching a number of free HD channels in time to watch this summer’s football World Cup.
Exclusive: A family enjoys a TV show. The BBC and other broadcasters are launching free HD channels that most equipment won't show
But viewers have not been told that they will need a new generation of high-tech set-top box to see the pictures.
Some 20million digital TV set-top boxes have been sold in Britain in the past five years, offering families access to Freeview TV channels and radio stations.
There are also 7.7million TV sets with built-in Freeview sitting in the nation’s front rooms.
But these are not compatible with the new HD transmissions, which allow much greater picture detail, particularly for fast-moving action such as sport.
Industry analysts have criticised the Freeview organisation, which is funded by commercial channels and the public through the BBC, for failing to alert consumers.
Technology industry expert Barry Fox warned: ‘If you bought a TV in the run-up to Christmas it will be described as HD-ready and it will probably have Freeview built-in.
End of an era: Millions of TV set-top boxes, such as this Philips DTR210/05, are incompatible with the new HD channels
‘Similarly, if you have bought a digital set-top box it will be compatible with current Freeview services.
‘But to watch Freeview HD, you will need either a completely new telly, which has a built-in HD receiver, or a new box that will receive the HD signals.’
The new equipment – such as the £170 Humax HD-FOX T2 – is expected to be on sale next month.
High definition channels such as BBC HD are currently available only to those who watch via Sky or Virgin, who will not need to upgrade their equipment to see the new channels.
The failure to tell the public about the upgrade is good news for manufacturers, who are still selling equipment to customers who are unaware it will not work with Freeview HD.
Mr Fox said: ‘A great song and dance is going to be made around the idea that people will be able to watch the World Cup this summer on free high definition channels.
High-tech: The new high-definition channels will only be visible with new set-top boxes such as the HD-FOX T2 Freeview (pictured)
‘I think it is monstrous that people have not been told the truth about the technology. I don’t know whether this is incompetence on the part of Freeview, a lack of understanding, or deliberate.
‘Freeview’s job is to educate the public about changes that are coming. I think their failure to do so is nothing short of despicable.’
Last night, BBC spokesman Graham Plumb said the need for new equipment was ‘a very important message to get across’.
Freeview confirmed that existing set-top boxes will not pick up the HD channels.
A spokesman said: ‘Evolving technology is common in the digital world. We saw the migration from 2G to 3G for mobiles, and this next-generation broadcasting transmission standard will enable viewers to upgrade to Freeview HD should they wish to do so.’
It is expected that 50 per cent of the country will be able to receive Freeview HD transmissions by the start of the World Cup in June.
Injury risk warning from TV topple
Booming sales of flat-screen televisions could cause a rise in accidents at home this Christmas, safety campaigners have warned.
Injury risk warning from TV topple
The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) said the hi-tech models pose a much higher risk of toppling over on children than older versions.
About 7,500 youngsters are taken to hospital in the US each year after televisions tip over, evidence showed.
RoSPA warned that a spike in sales in the build-up to Christmas, the digital switchover and the Word Cup could see similar results in the UK.
The organisation said it was aware of four reported fatalities in which children, aged from 13 months to four years, have died as a result of televisions falling on them.
Errol Taylor, of RoSPA, said: "From time to time, RoSPA believes it is important to raise awareness of the potential for accidents to happen before an injury trend emerges in the UK.
"In this instance, we have taken note of the findings of US research which studied a huge number of furniture tip-over cases from an 18-year period. Not only did the research find that the number of such injuries had increased, but that televisions were the most commonly-involved item of furniture.
"With flat-screen televisions becoming increasingly popular and many families likely to have a new set for Christmas, now is a crucial time to talk about safety. We urge people to ensure that free-standing television sets cannot be easily pulled over by children and that wall-mounted sets are securely fixed to walls which are strong enough to hold them."
To avoid accidents, RoSPA recommended placing flat-screen televisions on a wide, stable, manufacturers' base. In addition, tethering straps should run from the top of the back of the screen to a stable anchoring point, such as a wall-mounted bracket, the organisation said.