The digital switchover ... what happens next

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The public information campaign to help viewers in Northern Ireland prepare for the digital TV switchover has been launched with the help of BBC and UTV presenters Donna Traynor and Marc Mallett.

In just six months’ time, on October 10, analogue terrestrial TV services for around 650,000 households will start being switched off. Digital UK and the Switchover Help Scheme will support viewers across the region as they prepare for the biggest change to TV for a generation. The campaign will comprise:

On-screen messages: viewers will soon start seeing special messages covering part of their screens. Captions on Freeview can be quickly removed by pressing the yellow button.

The Switchover Help Scheme is writing to older and disabled people offering them practical help to switch one TV to digital, including equipment, installation and aftercare.1

Advertising: there will be extensive local advertising on TV, radio and in local newspapers.

Roadshows: the switchover roadshow will tour the region stopping at dozens of locations, offering face-to-face advice and practical demonstrations of digital TV equipment.

Guide to switchover: a few months before switchover, all households will be sent a detailed guide, including advice on retuning Freeview equipment.

Charity partnerships: Belfast Area Partnerships and Rural Community Network are working with Digital UK and the Help Scheme to offer extra information and support to viewers who need it.

Switchover will enable Freeview coverage to be increased to reach virtually all households in Northern Ireland. Viewers who get their TV signal from one of 43 local relay transmitters will see their choice of terrestrial channels increase from four to around 15.

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. Over the coming months we will be making plenty of information available and working with the Switchover Help Scheme to ensure viewers know where to turn for advice.”

Nigel Tilson, Switchover Help Scheme manager for Northern Ireland, added: “The thought of losing TV channels may concern many older or disabled people. But there’s no need to worry because help is available. All you need to do is look out for your information pack dropping through the door very soon and, once you receive it, either give us a call or return your completed form and we’ll do the rest.”

Digital UK: 08456 50 50 50, digitaluk.co.uk

Switchover Help Scheme: 0800 40 85 900, helpscheme.co.uk