Countdown to UK’s first switch begins

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Digital UK has announced the date on which the UK’s switch to digital TV will start. Whitehaven and the surrounding Copeland area of Cumbria will have its first analogue signal (BBC2) turned off and replaced by digital services on 17 October this year. The remaining three analogue channels will be switched off four weeks later on 14 November. The two-stage process will then be repeated elsewhere, across the UK, until switchover completes in 2012.
Ford Ennals, chief executive of Digital UK, outlined a range of help measures for the 25,000 households in Whitehaven and the surrounding switchover area. Letters are being sent to every household explaining the Digital Switchover Help Scheme, which will provide digital television equipment and installation to the most vulnerable – those aged 75 and over and those with certain disabilities. The Whitehaven countdown also signals the start of the latest Digital UK communications campaign. It includes new television and radio trails, sponsorship of Channel 4’s quiz show Countdown and a schools scheme.

Ford Ennals, said: “Switchover has been years in the planning and with today’s announcement it becomes a reality”. He explained that the digital switchover process is also taking place in various European countries; with, for example, Sweden having commenced it on 11 March this year.

Broadcast Minister Shaun Woodward commented to IER: “The fact that we have the state of readiness for the switchover in the country shows how well independent electrical retailers are engaged in this process. If the independent retailers supporting Whitehaven or other ‘first’ switchover areas have advice for us on the implementation process, we want to use their feedback to improve the process in the future”.

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