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What's the switchover?

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Why is the Digital Switchover happening?

TV in the UK has traditionally been delivered using 'analogue' technology, and since the 1980s and 1990s, the majority of the UK has enjoyed five channels of analogue TV: BBC1, BBC2, ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5.

Now, we have digital, which opens up hundreds of extra channels by using new digital technology.

The advantages

  • More channels and more viewing choice
  • High-definition pictures
  • Hard-disk recorders
  • Electronic Programme Guides
  • Ability to catch up on missed programmes

The disadvantages

  • Cost of buying digital boxes (£20 for a basic box: Tesco.com)
  • In some cases, having to make changes to aerials
  • Energy consumption of running a TV and set-top box

Ask most people in the UK, and you'll find that the advantages offered by digital TV far outweigh the negatives.

 

Why can't we have both analogue and digital?

There are hundreds of TV transmitters in the UK - some serving large towns, and some serving tiny local communities. It's inefficient and costly to maintain both the analogue and digital transmitter networks, and digital transmissions are in general a more efficient way of covering the UK. The decision was made by the Government that the UK should adopt digital technology by the end of 2012.

 

What happens if I refuse to switch?

If you haven't switched to digital TV by the time that the analogue TV service from your transmitter is be switched off:

  • You will no longer be able to watch BBC1, BBC2, ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5 via your TV aerial in analogue.
  • Your video recorder and DVD recorder will still be able to play back pre-recorded tapes and DVDs
  • If you have no equipment capable of receiving live TV, you may not need to pay your licence fee

OK - So I have to switch. What's best?

For most, Freeview is the answer - You can get a Freeview box for around £20 (via Tesco.com)

For your options, see our Digital TV Options section.

 

Can I complain?

Ultimately, the decision for the UK to go digital is down to the Government, and was made some time back. If you wish to complain, contact your local MP, the Government's Department for Media, Culture and Sport, or the UK TV regulator OfCom.

 

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