Digital changeoverMany viewers in the dark over digital switch

06 April 2006

A widescreen television

The aspect ratio of digital TV is suited to widescreen TVs

Four in ten UK viewers are completely in the dark about the switch to digital television and only seven per cent know when it's happening in their area, according to Which? Online.

The current analogue broadcast signal will be switched off across the UK regions between 2008 and 2012. We think that Digital UK, the body set up to raise consumer awareness of digital television, needs to act now to give viewers the information they need to make a smooth transition.

Which? Online carried out the survey and published the results today. Editor Malcolm Coles says: 'We've found that awareness of the switch to digital is alarmingly low, especially when you consider the first region is due to be switched in just two years' time.

'People need information now so they can plan ahead. Digital UK needs to pull its finger out!'

Freeview box needed

Which? Online has found that the forced conversion to digital television is also unpopular. Sixty per cent of viewers think it's wrong that there's no choice in the matter and 9 per cent even claim they'd rather give up television completely than be coerced to go digital.

Half the people we surveyed didn't realise that to carry on watching TV as they do now, they'll need a Freeview box, or Sky or cable for each TV in their home.

TV watchdog Ofcom says there are still 26 million sets that need modifying; other equipment, such as video recorders and aerials, might also need replacing or upgrading.

Ofcom estimates it will cost each household around GBP 132 to prepare for the analogue switch-off, but Which? Online says it's likely to be more, especially for those who will need a new aerial.