Switchover will make digital terrestrial television (Freeview) available to virtually every home in the area - including, for the first time, households served by local ‘relay’ transmitters.
When analogue signals are switched off and replaced with digital broadcasts at these sites, the number of channels available free via an aerial will increase from four to around 20.
Analogue services will be switched off in two stages at each transmitter group, with the process scheduled to be completed on March 24, 2010.
At stage one, BBC Two will cease broadcasting in analogue and the first group of Freeview digital channels will become available from relay transmitters.
Two weeks later, the remaining analogue channels will be permanently switched off and replaced with additional digital services.
Digital UK regional manager Bill Taylor said: “Today’s announcement is a real step forward in the digital television switchover programme.
“Once the process is complete, virtually all viewers will have the opportunity to enjoy digital television through an aerial, offering many homes more choice than ever before.”
The latest research indicated nine out of 10 people in the Westcountry were now aware of digital switchover, and 87 per cent had already converted their main television set.
Other findings from the Digital UK/Ofcom Switchover Tracker (to September, 2008) included:
- 63 per cent of homes in the area had already converted all their sets to digital
- 86 per cent recognised the ‘digital tick’ logo, which identifies products designed to keep working after switchover
- 91 per cent said they were not concerned about switchover
As part of Digital UK’s national information campaign, leaflets explaining switchover and the options available for going digital will be sent to every home.
They will be backed up by both national and local radio and television advertising.
Six months before switchover, on-screen captions reminding viewers to be ready, will appear on the television sets of those still watching analogue broadcasts.
Digital UK is also working in partnership with local charities and volunteers to provide advice and assistance for those who may need a little extra help.
Letters will be sent to every household eligible for help from the Switchover Help Scheme, which offers assistance and equipment to convert one television for people aged 75 or older, registered blind or partially sighted, on certain disability benefits or living in a care home for six months or more.
Those eligible will be contacted directly, offered help and sent information packs in time for switchover.
Karen Farnworth of the Switchover Help Scheme in the Westcountry, said: “We will be writing to everybody who is eligible for the scheme, explaining exactly what help is available and what needs to be done.
“The most important thing is not to worry - we will be in touch.”
To continue watching television via an aerial after switchover, analogue viewers will need to convert their set using a digital box.
Subscription and non-subscription digital television services are also available via satellite, cable, and broadband.
Digital UK is an independent, not-for-profit organisation established in 2005 to implement digital switchover.
It is jointly owned and funded by the public service broadcasters BBC, ITV, Channel 4, Five, S4C, and Teletext, and the digital multiplex operators.
More information about the digital switchover can be obtained by calling 08456 50 50 50. Digit Al image by by VisMedia 0207 613 2555.