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What is digital switchover?

Television in the UK is changing from the current analogue system to digital transmission only. This means that unless you adjust your television to receive digital signals you will not get any TV channels in future. This is called digital switchover. It will happen between 2008 and 2012. You still have plenty of time to switch to digital viewing, however about 66 per cent of UK households already use digital television.

What is digital switchover and why is it happening?

Digital switchover is the conversion of television broadcasting from analogue to digital. It will take place region by region between 2008 and 2012. After the switch in your region, you'll need to convert or upgrade every TV set you continue to watch.

After switchover, as well as the current channels (BBC1, BBC2, ITV, Channel 4 and Five), you'll have an added choice of digital channels including BBC 3, BBC 4, ITV2, ITV3, E4, More4, CBBC, Cbeebies and BBC News 24.

Why is the switchover happening?

The switchover will mean that more people will be able to enjoy the benefits of digital TV and will make a wide range of digital television options more affordable. Until digital switchover is complete, about one in four UK households cant get the full range of digital TV services available free through an aerial, and one in five UK households cannot get Five through their aerial.

Digital switchover will make sure the best available technology is in use. It will also make space for new services like high definition TV and broadcasting to mobile phones.

When is the digital switchover happening?

Digital switchover will take place TV region by TV region starting with the Border TV region in 2008 and ending in Ulster around 2012. This is the confirmed timetable for switchover:

TV Region Date
Border 2008, second half
West Country 2009, first half
HTV Wales 2009, second half
Granada 2009, second half
HTV West 2010, first half
Grampian 2010, first half
Scottish Television 2010, first half
Yorkshire 2011, first half
Anglia 2011, first half
Central 2011, first half
Meridian 2012, first half
Carlton / LWT (London) 2012, first half
Tyne Tees

2012, second half

Ulster 2012, second half

You will get plenty of notice before services in your area are affected and plenty of advice on what to do through various media - but you could start thinking about your digital TV options today.

How much will it cost?

Going digital can be simple and inexpensive. Most households have a choice of options and can weigh up the services they want against what they want to spend.

Most existing TV sets can be adapted with a digital box, with basic digital boxes starting at around £40. Contact your local electrical goods shop or TV rental company for more information on products available and how to connect them. Alternatively you can replace your old TV with one that has a decoder built into it, known as an integrated digital TV set or iDTV.

Between two and ten per cent of households are likely to need a new aerial. Again, there are a large variety of available options.

Will switching to digital affect TV licences?

If you need a TV licence today, you will still need one after digital switchover.  The cost is the same and you don't need a separate licence to watch digital television.

More questions answered

What happens to old television sets?

Contact your local council or Recyclenow to find out about recycling any television sets you don't want, or think about other places where it might be needed, like a local schools technology department. You could give working sets that are suitable for digital conversion to charity. If your television doesnt work any more and you want it to be disposed of by your local council, contact them to pick it up from your door as part of their bulky waste collection service.

Will video recorders still work with digital TV signals? 

You will be able to use your current video recorder unless you want to watch one programme while watching another. Then you will need to get a digital recorder.

The range of digital recorders (often called 'Personal Video Recorders' or PVRs) is expanding all the time ask you local retailer for more information. 

If you have more than one TV in the house will they all need to be converted for digital?   

Every TV set in your home that you want to use to watch TV broadcasts can receive digital TV.  Any TV set that you use only to play back videotapes or DVDs, or with a games console, will not need to be converted.

More information

Digital UK is the independent not-for-profit organisation that is co-ordinating the UK switchover to digital television. It will support consumers to make sure that everyone knows what they need to do and when.

You can call the Digital UK information line on 0845 6 50 50 50 or access more information from Digital UK

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