Information about the digital switchover is not getting through to the people who need it most, according to a new report.
The research from the Ofcom Consumer Panel found that some consumers – including elderly viewers – are confused about what equipment they should buy and are not confident about installing digital TV themselves.
The panel, which acts as an independent voice for telecom and broadcast consumers, also found that people who lack the technical confidence to start the switchover process didn’t know where to go for information.
The panel has now called on Digital UK, the body set up to manage the switchover from analogue, to step up promotion of its helpline. It also wants to see a rolling information channel on Freeview providing switchover information.
Colette Bowe, Consumer Panel Chairman, said: ‘We wanted to understand the experience of vulnerable consumers as they “go digital”, and our research is an important step in tracking their experiences.’
She added: ‘The switch to digital is an exciting move for the UK. To realise its full potential we need to ensure that every consumer has the ability to make informed decisions about the digital TV package that suits them.’
A spokesman for Digital UK said the organisation didn’t agree that information was not reaching vulnerable groups. He added that its own research showed older viewers were among the most well informed about switchover.
Digital switch timetable
The digital switchover process, which runs until 2012, began in October when Whitehaven in Cumbria became the first place in the UK to lose the analogue signal.
Scotland will be the next region of the UK to begin the switchover. The analogue signal will be switched off from 6 November, 2008, starting with the Scottish Border TV region.
The West Country, Granada and Wales TV regions are due to start the switchover process in 2009.