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What's the switchover?

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What is Analogue TV?

Analogue TV is how TV's been transmitted the 1930's. In the UK, BBC1, BBC2, ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5 were originally beamed out from analogue transmitters, and received on TV sets using a TV aerial.

Much of the UK can now receive TV using newer 'digital' technology, which offers more channels and better quality.

"This TV is not digital" message appearing?

Message from one site visitor: 'What is this message that keeps flashing up on the TV stating "This TV is not digital"? How is this happening and why is it appearing? It is most annoying and stays on the screen for over 2 minutes.'

If you're seeing a message like this, it means that you're watching analogue TV from an analogue TV transmitter, and your TV region will soon be switching off the analogue signal.

By the end of 2012, the analogue TV will finally be switched off, and we'll be getting our TV digitally.

Here are links to common questions we've been asked about the Switchover:

Alice Barber asks: "I have heard that the Analogue frequencies will still be there, available for public safety agencies during emergencies. Is this true or are analogue signals truly gone? Also will it be illegal for anybody to transmit analogue signals?"

For a start, it's important to note that the Digital Switchover only affects analogue TV signals - on the UHF band between 21 and 68. By the end of 2012, the analogue TV transmitters will be switched off, and converted to digital transmitters (Freeview). Freeview uses the same band as analogue TV, the 21 to 65 UHF band, so it's just a case of the band switching from analogue to digital.

By the end of 2012, it's hoped that every home that wants to watch TV, will have made the switch to digital.

Emergencies? Given that by the time 2012 ends, almost all homes will be digital, we're not sure who'd be able to use the old analogue TV service in an emergency.

Illegal to be analogue? The UK frequencies are regulated by OfCom - from 2012, the 21 to 65 UHF band will be for licensed digital TV services.

More information: Digital TV Options


Will the analogue switch-off affect radio?

Not as such. The Digital Switchover only affects UK TV, and not radio. However, as part of the Digital Britain report in 2009, there is a proposal to switch FM and Medium Wave stations over to digital by 2015.

For more on the proposed plans for FM and AM, see FM Radio Switchoff


Answer unclear? Let us know!