Tessa Jowell Confirms Digital Switchover Timetable And Support For The Most Vulnerable
Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell today announced the go ahead for the switch to digital only TV in the UK and support to make sure no group is left behind.
Digital switchover will happen between 2008 and 2012 by ITV region in the following order:
- 2008 – Border
- 2009 – West Country, HTV Wales, Granada
- 2010 – HTV West, Grampian, Scottish Television
- 2011 – Yorkshire, Anglia, Central
- 2012 – Meridian, Carlton/LWT (London), Tyne Tees, Ulster
The Government wants all UK households to benefit from digital TV. Key to this is ensuring that everyone has a choice of digital TV options that they can afford. This can only be achieved through a universal switchover from analogue to digital signals.
Tessa Jowell also announced a support scheme to make sure that no one is left behind in the switch. It will provide help with equipment and installation and follow-up support for people aged 75 years and over and people with significant disabilities. The scheme will be funded by the BBC through the licence fee.
The scope of the support scheme for the most vulnerable households is:
- help will go to all households with one person aged 75 or over;
- help will go to all households with one person with a significant disability (receiving attendance allowance, disability living allowance);
- help will be available free of charge to households with one person aged 75 or over/disabled households receiving pension credit, income support or jobseekers allowance; other households will pay a modest fee;
- specific support for households where one person is blind.
Assistance will consist of providing the necessary equipment to convert one TV set and the relevant support to install and use the equipment. Equivalent arrangements will be made to provide assistance if a different platform for receiving digital is opted for. Further details of how the scheme will operate in practice need to be developed by the BBC and the Government.
Speaking at the Royal Television Society Cambridge Convention 2005 in Cambridge, Tessa Jowell today said:
"Digital television is no longer a probability, it is a certainty. And I believe it can leave us with a legacy of more choice, for more people, than anywhere else in the world.
"When a new technology comes along, Governments have two choices. And only two. They can follow it, trying to make retrospective sense of how society is changing as a result.
"Or they can be ahead of the curve, shaping the future and ensuring that the fruits of technology are evenly spread. We have chosen the latter course."
Trade and Industry Secretary Alan Johnson said:
"The way is now set for UK television to become fully digital.
"Everyone should now take their decisions about how and when to go digital with confidence. The "digital tick" logo certifies goods and services designed to help consumers through switchover.
"Switchover represents an enormous change to our society. Industry must maximise the opportunities and benefits on offer and continue to play a vital role, along with broadcasters and Digital UK, in keeping the UK at the forefront of the digital TV revolution."
The region-by-region timetable for Switchover has been developed by broadcasters in consultation with Ofcom and Government.
It builds on considerable progress made so far.
Already 63 % of UK households have digital television and over two million households have switched in the last 12 months, an increase of 18.4% on the previous year.
The current system of jointly broadcasting in analogue and digital is inefficient and means that only 73% of households can currently get access to the full range of digital TV services available through an aerial and only 80% can currently access Five.
Access can only be increased by switching off the analogue signal.
The Department for Culture Media and Sport has worked with charities – including the RNIB, the RNID, Age Concern, Help the Aged and the Consumers' Association – along with the Department for Work and Pensions and the BBC to develop the support package.
The help will be free for the poorest eligible households – those on Income Support, Job Seeks' Allowance or Pension Credit. A modest fee will be charged to others.
Tessa Jowell added:
"Nearly two thirds of the population have already exercised their private choice to go digital. They have already voted with their wallets.
"Yet many of those yet to go digital are exactly the people that the State has a duty to protect – the elderly, the disabled, the poorest.
"They have in many cases the most to gain from a fully digital world. And we have to make sure they aren't left behind."
Switchover will be co-ordinated by Digital UK, an independent, not-for-profit company set up by the broadcasters, commercial multiplex operators and involving the supply chain.
Digital UK – formally known as Switchco – will launch tomorrow. It will ensure that the public have timely and accurate information about switchover, including knowing when their transmitter is going digital and what they have to do to ensure they receive the new signal.
Notes to Editors
1. Tessa Jowell was speaking at the Royal Television Society Cambridge Convention 2005.
2. Timetable: Digital switchover will take place between 2008 and 2012 based on the following order of ITV regions agreed by broadcasters and Ofcom:
Region Year Regional Start Date
Border 2008 2nd Half
West Country 2009 1st Half
HTV Wales 2009 2nd Half
Granada 2009 2nd Half
HTV West 2010 1st Half
Grampian 2010 1st Half
Scottish Television 2010 2nd Half
Yorkshire 2011 1st Half
Anglia 2011 1st Half
Central 2011 1st Half
Meridian 2012 1st Half
Carlton / LWT (London) 2012 1st Half
Tyne Tees 2012 2nd Half
Ulster 2012 2nd Half
3. This regional order has been determined by technical criteria determined by the Broadcasters and Ofcom. The regional order will follow ITV regions. This ensures that the impact on ITV regional advertising markets is minimised.
4. For more information about digital TV and switchover go to www.digitaltelevision.gov.uk
5. For more information about Digital UK go to www.digitaluk.co.uk or press office ph: 0207 580 2626
6. Digital switchover is the process of turning off the UK's analogue television broadcasting to digital format. Households can access digital television in the UK through a satellite (digital satellite), cable (digital cable) or aerial (digital terrestrial) or thorough their telephone line (broadband).
7. Digital switchover will involve changing the current television broadcasting infrastructure and network to digital, as well as ensuring that consumers have suitable TV and recording equipment to receive digital television.
8. To continue to watch broadcast television services through an aerial after switchover, viewers will need to convert their analogue TV sets and recording equipment or get a digital television set. After switchover, viewers will be able to get all the services they get today through their aerial, and many more as standard (including digital channels from public service broadcasters including BBC3, BBC4, Cbeebies, ITV2, ITV3. More4 and BBC News 24). The coverage of Five (Channel 5), limited today, will also be dramatically extended after switchover.
9. In the first five years of digital television in the UK, 12.5 million households adopted digital television services. Ofcom estimated that by the end of June 2005, 63% of UK homes (15.7 million) were accessing digital television via all platforms.
10. The Government is platform and technology neutral in relation to digital switchover.
Press Enquiries: 020 7211 6052/6277
Out of hours telephone pager no: 07699 751153
Public Enquiries: 020 7211 6200
Back to main
Back to top