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Viewers warned about digital TV rip-off

Don't get conned into buying unnecessary equipment
A remote control pointed at a television screen.

Homeowners are being urged not to get tricked into paying for unnecessary equipment in the run-up to the switchover to digital television.

The switchover will happen on a regional basis – starting in Whitehaven, Cumbria in October– and run until 2012, when the analogue signal will disappear completely.

Once the signal has gone in each area, viewers will need a Freeview box for each TV in their home, or a Sky or cable service.

But some people with Freeview will also need to have their rooftop aerial replaced or upgraded to get a decent signal.

Cowboy traders

Digital UK, which is leading the switchover process, says some cowboy traders have cold called homeowners to get them to buy aerials that they don’t need.

A spokesman said: ‘We have had reports of this happening on a sporadic basis. We are working very closely with trading standards and the police to track it and make sure that if it becomes a bigger problem we can crack down on it.’

He added: ‘Nobody should visit your house in relation to digital switchover without making a prior appointment.’

Digital UK says that only a small proportion of homes will need a new aerial and, as a rule, if you have good reception now you’ll get decent digital reception when the signal is boosted by the switchover.

Top tips

Householders should remember that:

  • if your aerial needs work, you should get more than one quote. The cost should be between £80 and £150, or possibly more if you live in a high building
  • you should contact traders licensed under the government’s Registered Digital Installer (RDI) scheme
  • aerial points around the home should cost between £45 and £55. For portable televisions you’ll need an indoor digital aerial: watch out next month for our test.
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