This week, Northern Ireland will begin the Digital Switchover.
This is the final piece of the UK’s digital TV puzzle which will see the last analogue signal shutting down as the region fully switches to digital.
Olympian Dame Mary Peters has the honour of switching on the new digital signal at an event hosted by Arqiva which will also be marked by a simultaneous live broadcast from the BBC and UTV, presented by Eamonn Holmes, on the night of Tuesday 23 October.
The switchover will begin this Wednesday, the 10th of October with the analogue signal for BBC2 powering down first of all.
Once done, all of the BBC channels will become available on the digital signal. On the 24th of October all of the remaining analogue channels will be gone and the digital signal will be turned on.
The switchover will also see Freeview customers in Northern Ireland able to get RTÉ One, RTÉ Two and TG4 for the first time.
Ideally you’ll need to have either a Freeview or Saorview TV or box in order to get the new digital channels. If you’ve got these already, then you’ll need to retune your box after the 10th and the 24th in order to get the channels back.
If you’re a Sky, Virgin Media or Freesat customer then you’ll remain unaffected by the Digital Switchover. Customers with BT Vision or YouView boxes will need to re-tune in the same way that Freeview and Saorview customers do.
For more information on the Digital Switchover, read our guide below where you’ll find useful links – to more detailed advice from Recombu Digital or how to find experts you can trust. If you’re elderly or disabled, there’s help available so make sure you’re not left out.
October 8, 2012
What is Digital Switchover?
Digital Switchover is the process of switching off the UK’s analogue terrestrial TV signal, which has up to five channels, and replacing it with a stronger digital TV signal that carries up to 50 channels.
It’s not just a British event. The whole world is turning off analogue TV and many countries – including the USA and most of Europe – have already made the switch. Through careful planning, the UK has made the switch gradually over seven years, and it’s been mostly trouble-free.
Why are we doing this?
Switchover is happening so that the Freeview TV service can be extended to people who can’t get it, and so that new services like high definition TV can be available to almost everyone.There are also spin-off benefits like the launch of new mobile phone and broadband services in the next few years, and it’s possible even more Freeview channels could be added in future.
What will happen?
There are two stages to digital switchover, two weeks apart.
At Stage One, the analogue BBC Two signal will be permanently switched off, and the Freeview signal for BBC digital channels including BBC Two will be turned up to reach more people. Older Freeview boxes and TVs will have to be re-tuned.
At Stage Two, the remaining analogue TV channels will switched off – BBC One, ITV 1, Channel 4 and Channel Five (if you get it). The remaining Freeview channels will be turned up to a higher power to reach more people. Older Freeview boxes and TVs will have to be re-tuned again.
What do I need to do?
You need to buy a Freeview box for every TV, replace your TVs with Freeview TVs, or get one of the non-terrestrial digital TV services like BT Vision, Freesat, Sky or Virgin Media. Most homes have a mix of Freeview and these services. Find out more in Digital Switchover: what are my choices.
If you’re very unlucky, you may need a new TV aerial, but it’s not too expensive.
Where can I get more advice?
Digital UK has been set up to guide the UK through the Digital Switchover, and if you’re affected then you should be sent a guide a few months before it reaches your region. If you need more advice, you can find it at the Digital UK website.
Who can help me?
The Switchover Help Scheme has been set up to help the elderly and vulnerable to get through Digital Switchover.
If you’re aged 75 or over, you’ve lived in a care home for six months or more, if you get certain disability benefits, or you’re registered blind or partially sighted, then you should be contacted. If you haven’t been contacted or you know someone who may need help, contact them on 0800 40 85 9000 or www.helpscheme.co.uk.
The help scheme will give you everything you need to switch one TV to digital. This includes easy-to-use equipment, an approved installer to supply and fit the equipment, and a 12-month aftercare service with a free helpline, to help with things like re-tuning. The help scheme costs £40, but it’s free to people on certain income-related benefits.
Digital UK can be contacted on 08456 50 50 50. If you just need an installer for technical help and don’t qualify for the scheme, then contact the Registered Digital Installer Licensing Body (www.rdi-lb.co.uk) or the Confederation of Aerial Installers (www.cai.org.uk) to find a trained and insured installer in your area.