Three million still to make digital TV switchOver 55s could be left without TV signal

06 January 2009

Freeview Logo

Freeview is one way to switch

Research by Digital UK has revealed three million households have yet to make the switch from analogue TV to the new digital television platform.

The worst offenders, or 'digital dawdlers', are the over-55 age group according to the broadcaster funded Digital UK group. 

Switchover is being phased in on a regional basis over the next few years, starting with the Borders and ending in London and the south-east in 2012. Without access to digital TV viewers will be left with no television signal at all.

Dave Holes, head of Which? electronics research, said, 'There are still parts of the country that cannot receive a Freeview signal so it's not surprising that some people have not made the switch yet. However, it's clear that some people who could switch have chosen not to do so and will need further convincing over the next few years - but there's still plenty of time.'

Freeview, Freesat, Sky and Virgin

Once the analogue TV signal is switched off, the only way to watch television will be by satellite, cable or terrestrial Freeview. You can buy a Freeview set-top box from £20 and convert most existing TVs to digital but virtually all new LCD and plasma TVs have a built-in Freeview digital tuner, meaning you can access over 40 digital TV channels for free.

Some new TVs from Panasonic also feature a built-in Freesat tuner. Freesat from the BBC and ITV is a new digital TV service. It's the equivalent non-subscription service to Freeview but via satellite instead of a roof-top aerial. 

If you don't mind paying monthly subscription costs digital services from Sky satellite and Virgin cable offer even more channels and choice. 

Digital television switchover

Despite the warnings nine out of ten homes do have a digital television. GfK NOP Media, who conducted the research for Digital UK, divided viewers into different groups depending on their viewing habits.

Those most likely to have made the switch include  'Out and About Families', aged 25-44 with two or more children and 'High-Tech Consumers', aged 15-30. 

Those it classed as a 'digital dawdler' tended to be comprised of viewers over the age of 55 and included 'Cultured Conservatives', older professionals who enjoy news, documentaries and arts programmes and 'TV Traditionalists', who again are over 55 and tend to be worried about new technology. 

But younger 'Rolling Stones' who love gadgets and cars have also been slow to switch and are likely to leave it till the least minute. 

RSS feeds

For daily consumer news, subscribe to the Which? news RSS feed here. If you have an older web browser you may need to copy and paste this link into your newsreader: Find out more about RSS in the Which? guide to news feeds

Sign up to the Which? weekly technology email

Keep your finger on the pulse of digital technology with the weekly email from the Which? Technology team. Every Tuesday we'll send you the latest news and reviews of MP3 players, mobile phones, cameras, high-definition TVs and other gadgets. Packed with the latest product launches, First Look reviews, expert advice and some incredible deals - can you afford not to be the first to find out?