Northern Ireland’s 650,000 homes have six months to go until Digital Switchover begins in the UK’s final switch-off of analogue TV.
Digital Switchover will start on October 10, 2012, across Northern Ireland, with analogue BBC Two going off-air and the BBC’s digital signals boosted to 10 times their current power.
The remaining analogue TV channels will be switched off two weeks later, on October 24, 2012, and the rest of the Freeview signals turned up to full power.
Freeview coverage will be boosted from 66 per cent to 98 per cent of households in Northern Ireland, and then full service will reach many more homes.
Viewers using the Divis, Brougher Mountain, and Limavady transmitters will get the full service of 30 channels, but but viewers who use one of the 43 local relay transmitters will only get 15 Freeview channels instead. Which Northern Ireland transmitter will you be using? (thanks to UKFree.tv)
Many viewers who choose a Freeview HD box will also be able to pick up the Irish channels TG4, RTE One and RTE Two, depending on coverage in their area.
Denis Wolinski, Digital UK regional manager for Northern Ireland, said: “We are starting the final countdown to a fully digital TV system for Northern Ireland.
“The benefits will be felt by hundreds of thousands of viewers who will be able to receive free to air digital TV via an aerial for the first time.”
Northern Ireland is currently being mass-mailed to make sure everyone knows about the switchover, with the campaign launched by BBC and UTV presenters Donna Traynor and Marc Mallett – and a pink postman.
Northern Ireland will be the last part of the UK to go fully digital – engineers had to wait until Ireland had decided on its own digital TV plans.
Analogue and Freeview viewers will also see onscreen captions alerting them to the changes, there will be local roadshows, and the Digital Switchover Help Scheme is reaching out to elderly and vulnerable residents.
Nigel Tilson, Switchover Help Scheme manager for Northern Ireland, said: “The thought of losing TV channels may concern many older or disabled people. But there’s no need to worry because help is available.”
The help scheme covers people aged 75 or over, who have lived in a care home for six months or more, or get (or could get) certain disability benefits, or are registered blind or partially sighted.
Most eligible people will be asked to pay £40 towards the help, which includes easy-to-use equipment to convert one TV set, an approved installer to supply and install the necessary equipment, and a 12-month aftercare service including a free helpline.
The Digital Switchover Help Scheme can be reached on 0800 40 85 900, or at helpscheme.co.uk.
UPDATE 29/05/2012: RTE and TG4 will be carried alongside Freeview in Northern Ireland, and available through Freeview HD receivers.