Digital switchover explained Analogue TV switch off
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The digital switchover is happening region by region between 2008 and 2012.
If you haven't upgraded your TV equipment to digital by the time your region switches off its analogue signal, you won't be able to watch television.
The map on the right shows the year each TV region is due to switch (click on the link below the map for a bigger image).
Not all regions are switching to digital at the same time. Digital UK – the independent organisation responsible for coordinating the switch to digital TV – has announced a timetable by month according to which TV transmitter you live closest to. Details on the progress of switchover in the different regions are given below:
- Border (including Isle of Man) – switchover completed
- Granada – switchover completed
- West Country – switchover completed
- Wales– switchover completed
- West – switchover completed
- STV North (including Shetland Isles) – switchover completed
- Channel Islands – switchover completed
- STV central – switchover completed
- Anglia - switchover completed
- Central - switchover completed
- Yorkshire - switchover completed
- Meridian - switchover in progress
- London - Switchover starts April 2012. Retune dates: 4th April and 18th April.
- Tyne Tees - switchover starts Sept 2012. Retune dates: 12th Sept and 26th Sept.
- Northern Ireland - switchover starts Oct 2012. Retune dates: 10th Oct and 24th Oct.
If you're not sure which TV region you live in, you can check using Digital UK's postcode checker.
Digital switchover problems
Though most people who've been through the digital switchover have found the process relatively problem-free, a fifth of those that Which? asked have experienced some problems.
We've highlighted the most common concerns below.
You'll need to retune your Freeview box regularly
The digital switchover affects the TV signal given out by TV transmitters, so you'll need to retune any Freeview set-top boxes at the start and end of your switchover period to avoid losing access to some channels.
Most people Which? spoke to who'd been through the switchover found retuning fairly straightforward, though some needed to help less technically minded neighbours. There should be guidelines on how to retune your TV's set-top box in the manufacturer's instructions.
Retuning may result in your TV channel order changing, so if you suddenly seem to have lost some, check the full listing to see whether 'missing' channels are buried at the bottom of the list. This could also be the problem if you live on the border between two TV regions and have found that your electronic programme guide (EPG) is prioritising channels from another TV region.
You might need to replace older Freeview set-top boxes
Some older Freeview set-top boxes might not work after the switchover. Unfortunately, the only option in this case is to choose a new Freeview box.
If you buy a new Freeview box, buy one marked with the digital tick, which indicates that it's switchover compatible.
Some people won't get the full range of Freeview channels
Digital UK explains on its website that after the switchover, most people will receive their television signal from a main transmitter. Main transmitters broadcast nearly 50 Freeview digital channels. But 10% of households get their television signal from local relay transmitters, which will broadcast approximately 15 of the most-watched free-to-air digital channels and text services, including BBC One, BBC Two, ITV, Channel 4 (plus S4C in Wales) and Five, and a range of associated digital channels such as ITV2, E4 and BBC Three.
This includes all the channels for which we pay a TV licence fee. The remaining Freeview channels are all commercial channels that haven't invested in extending their broadcast to local relay transmitters.
If you're not happy with the range of Freeview channels you receive, take a look at your alternatives to Freeview in the Which? guide to free TV and pay TV.