Digital switchover completes in Wales today, as it becomes the first nation in the UK to switch fully to digital TV.
Wales joins the Borders in Scotland and England’s West Country and Granada regions as TV regions that can only watch TV via digital services such as Freeview.
Many parts of Wales have already switched to digital, and today the final analogue TV signals around Cardiff will be switched off for good. The process of digital switchover in Wales is expected to be completed by mid-afternoon.
The rest of the UK will complete digital switchover region by region over the next few years. By the end of 2012 you’ll only be able to watch TV in the UK if you have upgraded your TV equipment to digital.
If you’re not sure what digital switchover is all about, find out how to get ready and what new digital TV equipment you’ll need in the Which? guide to digital switchover.
Retune your Freeview boxes
The final stages of digital switchover in Wales started shortly after midnight when analogue BBC One, ITV1, S4C and Five were turned off permanently at the Wenvoe transmitter group, enabling extra channels to be broadcast from 75 local relay transmitters serving thousands of homes, and making Cardiff the UK’s first digital capital city.
Existing Freeview viewers in Wales may find that some of their channels are missing following the final stage of switchover. Digital UK says that these channels have moved to new frequencies – you can get your channels back by retuning Freeview set-top boxes and Freeview TVs.
Confused TV signals along Welsh border
Digital UK has hailed the completion of the Welsh switchover as ‘an historic day’. Before switchover began, according to Digital UK, one in three Welsh viewers could not receive Freeview. Today, almost everyone in Wales has access to Freeview.
However the BBC has reported that there are some issues with overlapping signals along the border between Wales and England. Viewers in English counties bordering Wales may find Welsh TV channels appearing on their sets, and vice versa.
Getting help with digital switchover
A limited number of people qualify to receive financial and practical assistance from the government to convert one television to receive and display digital TV broadcasts, via the digital switchover help scheme.
You’ll qualify for this only if you’re aged over 75 or have a significant disability and are receiving attendance allowance or disability living allowance. If this applies to you, you’ll receive free or subsidised equipment depending on your individual circumstances, as well as help with installation.
In Wales today, Digital UK and the Switchover Help Scheme are running local advice points and two roadshows (in Cardiff and Newport) to provide support for viewers who need it. The Help Scheme in Wales is still open until 30 April to applications from older and disabled viewers who may qualify for help including a choice of equipment, installation and aftercare.
For those who don’t qualify for the help scheme, digital switchover needn’t cost the earth. Almost all existing TVs can be converted to digital with a Freeview set-top box.
Take a look at the Which? review of Freeview and Freesat set-top boxes, including Which? Best Buys that won’t let you down from as little as £40.
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