Digital TV Switchover - 60 second guideYour quick and simple guide to the switchover

04 April 2012

Preparing for digital switchover

Not every home is prepared for digital switchover

Today marks the date that the analogue TV signal will be phased out in the London area in favour of digital Freeview TV. Our 60 second guide will help you avoid any problems during the digital switchover.

Who is affected?

Anyone who is still watching TV via the analogue signal in the London region will find that they will start to lose their channels from today. If you are using an older TV, with no Freeview box, cable or satellite service, you will probably need to upgrade your equipment or buy an additional set top box. 

If you have a newer TV with a built-in Freeview tuner, own a Freeview set top box, you may need to re-tune your TV to ensure you continue to receive all channels. If you have a Freesat set top box or TV, or subscribe to a TV service like Sky or Virgin Media, no action is required.

If, after switching to a Freeview TV or set top box you find you can't receive all the channels, you may need to upgrade your TV aerial. See our guide to upgrading your TV aerial or visit Which? Local to find a recommended TV aerial installer near you.

What are my options? 

If you need to update your equipment, there are several options available to you, and the good news is that it doesn't have to be expensive.

1. Buy a new TV

One easy solution is to buy a TV with a built-in Freeview tuner. If you're not sure if your TV has a Freeview tuner, the easiest way to check is to see how many channels you currently receive. If it's more than the main five, your TV is receiving Freeview.

Small or large, almost all new TVs come with built-in Freeview tuners, so there should be something for every budget. Some TVs also come with Freeview HD, which is a higher definition service, offering some channels, such as BBC 1 HD, with superior picture quality of standard broadcasts.

If you think now is the right time to upgrade your TV, read our reviews of the latest digital TVs where you'll find Best Buys for as little as £170.

2. Buy a Freeview set top box

This is the cheapest option, and involves purchasing a Freeview set top box to connect to your TV, which can receive a digital signal and let you watch Freeview without having to buy a new TV.

Freeview set top boxes can be purchased for under £20, and are fairly inexpensive. A set top box like this will give you access to around 50 digital channels.

Another option is a Freesat set top box, which is similar to Freeview, but offers more channels (around 150), and requires the installation of a satellite dish.

Take a look at our reviews of Freeview set top boxes for our recommendations.

3. Sign up to a subscription TV service

Subscription TV services are available from Virgin Media, Sky and BT Vision. They all offer various price levels, and access to hundreds of channels. There are also benefits to taking out a TV subscription - most services offer a PVR (personal video recorder) to subscribers, as well as the opportunity to take out bundles that also include broadband and phone services.

To see how Sky, Virgin Media and BT Vision compare, read our guide to TV subscription packages.

What if I still have questions?

If you need help getting access to Freeview, or have any questions about the switchover, Digital UK have set up a phone line to assist. Ring 08456 50 50 50 for more information about the digital switchover.

If you are over 75, or disabled, Digital UK have set up a scheme that provides everything needed to switch to digital. Details can be found at www.helpscheme.co.uk, or call 0800 40 85 900.

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