Letter: Countdown to digital switchover

ANALOGUE TV viewers in parts of Horsham have just two weeks to get ready for the digital TV switchover, starting on February 29.

With just a fortnight to go until the first analogue channel is permanently switched off, latest research indicates nine out of homes in the area have already gone digital on their main TV set, but some still need to get ready or risk having a blank screen.

Digital UK, the independent body in charge of the process, is now launching the final stage of its information campaign.

Large warning messages will be broadcast on analogue channels, reminding viewers to get ready for switchover.

The Switchover Help Scheme is also urging any eligible older and disabled viewers yet to respond to let them know whether they want practical support to convert one TV set to digital, including a choice of equipment, installation and aftercare.

The switchover will take place in two stages and will see Freeview coverage boosted to reach thousands of viewers who get their signal from local relay transmitters.

At both stages, new and existing viewers with Freeview, BT Vision and Top Up TV will need to retune their TVs or digital boxes to pick up all the services available.

Stage one starts in the early hours of February 29. Analogue BBC Two will be permanently switched off from the Midhurst transmitter and its relays.

Some Freeview digital channels, including BBC Two, become available for the first time to viewers served by relay transmitters.

Stage two starts in the early hours of 14 March. The remaining analogue channels (BBC One, ITV1, Channel 4 and Channel 5) will be permanently switched off.

These services and a range of other Freeview TV, radio and text services become available to viewers served by relay transmitters.

Most viewers are ready for switchover and many are looking forward to getting digital TV for the first time.

While the process will be straightforward for most people, inevitably some viewers may need a bit of extra help so we are working with the Switchover Help Scheme and local charities to offer support for those who need it throughout the switchover period.

Viewers can check their switchover date and options for getting digital TV by using the Digital UK postcode checker at digitaluk.co.uk or by ringing 08456 50 50 50. A list of advice points running through switchover is available at digitaluk.co.uk/meridianadvicepoints.

Digital UK is the independent, not-for-profit organisation established in 2005 to lead the implementation of digital switchover. It is jointly owned and funded by the public-service broadcasters (BBC, ITV, Channel 4, Channel 5 and S4C), and the digital multiplex operators.

The Switchover Help Scheme is run by the BBC under an agreement with the Government to help older and disabled people make the change to digital TV. More information is available from helpscheme.co.uk.

BILL TAYLOR

Digital UK regional manager in Meridian

Pullman Way, Ringwood, Hampshire