Digital TV countdown started at airport

One Year until the westcounty switchover

One Year until the westcounty switchover

Digital UK started a 365 day countdown to digital television switchover in the westcounty at Exeter Airport on 8 April 2008.

Campaign mascot Digit Al togther with Digital UK Regional Manager Bill Taylor launched the official one year countdown at Exeter International Airport and marked the ‘take off’ by using an aircraft, operated by locally based charter company, Capital Aviation.

Bill Taylor, Regional Manager for Digital UK in the South West, said: “This is a real milestone in the programme for switchover in the West Country. It means that in exactly one year from now, the first transmitter will change from an analogue signal to a digital one. Every household will be affected right across the region and no matter where you live; you will need to ensure that every television is set up to receive a digital signal. It is a good time to start preparing with only 12 months to go now – check to see what services you can expect to receive now and after switchover by calling the Digital UK helpline or visit our website.”

The Beacon Hill transmitter group serving south Devon, including Torbay and South Hams will be the first to switch from an analogue signal on this date. The Stockland Hill transmitter group serving south west Somerset, west Dorset and south east Devon including Exeter will switchover to digital on Wednesday 6 May 2009. Digital UK Regional Manager Bill Taylor and campaign mascot Digit Al launched the official ‘one year countdown’ at Exeter International Airport earlier (pictured).

During 2009, five TV transmitters in the West Country will switch to fully digital signals, making Freeview channels available across the region for the first time – nearly a million households will be affected. The three remaining transmitter groups (below) will switch between July and September 2009 – the specific dates will be announced later this year:

Huntshaw Cross:  Serving north Devon
Redruth: Serving west Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly
Caradon Hill:  Serving east Cornwall and Devon including Plymouth

Readers of the Western Morning News could receive their TV pictures from one of the five transmitters in the region, Redruth, Caradon Hill, Huntshaw Cross, Beacon Hill or Stockland Hill

Latest statistics from Digital UK and Ofcom (Tracker Survey Q4 07) show that 96% are aware of switchover taking place in the West Country and 86% know what they need to do. More than eight in ten households have converted one television set and over half have converted all televisions in their household.

Anne Linnington from Age Concern in the South West said: “Our biggest concern is reaching elderly and vulnerable people during this process and making sure that they understand what needs to be done ahead of switchover. We will be working hard on helping Digital UK communicate the message wherever possible and providing elderly people with the right advice and help where it is needed most. For some, it will be complex and maybe more difficult to switch and so we need to support these viewers over the next year.”

Research from Ofcom shows that most aerials will continue to work after switchover and only five per cent of households will need an aerial upgrade – people can check the strength of their existing aerial by visiting Teletext page 284. The average cost to repair or replace a standard aerial will vary from £80 to £150. Digital UK recommends that if residents need work done on their aerial ahead of switchover, they use contractors who are RDI and display the digital tick logo – it means they are approved and security-checked with the relevant qualifications and insurance.

Dave Maynard is an Exeter-based Registered Digital Installer and assesses other aerial installers at Exeter College, enabling them to become RDI qualified. Over 100 have already been trained since the course started in May 2007.

He said: “Customers should expect high standards from an aerial installer and my advice is always to use a contractor who is a member of a registered trade body because they can then be guaranteed that the person has proved their competence and passed a criminal record check. Through RDI, people can be assured they will have good quality materials and workmanship used.”

Viewers can check whether they are able to receive a digital signal already by visiting Digital UK’s website www.digitaluk.co.uk and entering their postcode. This gives details of what services you can receive before, during and after switchover. The Digital UK helpline can also be contacted on 08456 50 50 50.