What is the digital switchover?

The digital TV switchover is Government policy. It will mean that almost everyone will be able to receive digital TV through an aerial (Freeview).

Digital TV also uses less broadcast space which means that after switchover, there will be more room for new services such as wireless broadband, local TV and High Definition Television (HDTV).

To keep your TV service, you will need to convert your TVs to digital before your area’s switchover date.

What are the benefits of going digital?

 Digital TV offers new ways to enjoy your TV service:

  • Greater choice of TV channels
  • New features such as on-screen listings, interactivity, audio description and subtitling for people with visual and audio impairments.
  • Optional additional channels and services including premium channels(e.g movies, sports), broadband and telephony.
  • Greatly improved picture quality.

How do I receive digital TV

  • There are various ways to receive digital TV. 
  • Freeview-  For most a free platform is available via a compatible aerial, using a freeview TV or a freeview set top box.  This provides a mix of around 100 different TV and radio stations and is available to 73% of the UK currently.  After digital switchover in 2012 this will increase to 98%.
  • Freesat-  This digital platform is also free and is currently available to 98% of the UK.  This requires a small satellite dish and compatible satellite receiver.  Providing around 150 TV and radio stations it has a similar line up of channels as freeview.  It is rare not to receive a reliable signal via satellite in the uk.
  • Sky-  This platform has a subscription based service in the UK and requires a small satellite dish.  Available to 98% of the UK.  Starting from £17 per month up to £65 per month.  It provides all of the channels that freeview and freesat has plus many more which are tailored to your specific subscription.  If you require the most variety of channels sky is the best choice.
  • Virgin- This platform also has a subscription based service in the UK.  Only available to 51% of the UK, requires your street to be cabled with a Virgin network.  Advantages being you do not require an aerial or satellite dish on your property.  Virgin has a similar line up to Sky and historically at a lower premium, howether Virgin has always been in the shadows of Sky and can be more unreliable.  
  • Foreign Satellite-  Foreign satellite provides many thousands of channels of free digital TV.  Howether there is a limited number of English available, similar to freeview and freesat.  There are many foreign language channels available depending on which 'bird' (satellite) you are aiming at.  Premiership football fans can benefit from foreign satellite viewing:).  Foreign satellite requires a dish, that can range mainly from 50cm to 120cm.  Some enthusiasts can go to a dish size of 4 meters.
  • Other digital platforms-  

BT Vision-  Available from BT for a monthly subscription.  This set top box requires a aerial feed to view all current freeview services.  It also has on demand services such as movies, sport, blockbusters and other on demand content.  This requires a BT phone line connected to the set top box.

Talk Talk TV-  Formerly known as Tiscali TV.  This is another subscription service which also includes broadband internet access and phone line.  Similar to BT vision, there are on demand services available.

Top up TV-  Available through an aerial with a specific set top box.  Provides more channels than standard freeview, but with a monthly subscription.

Internet Tv-  Digital tv is becoming more available over the internet these days and provides a great catch up service.

BBCs iPlayer allows you to watch the last 7 days of BBC programmes for free on your PC at www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer

ITV- Similar catch up service for the last 30 days at www.itv.com/itvplayer

Channel 4- On demand service, with some pay per view, www.channel4.com/4od

Five- Repeats on www.demand.five.tv

Sky- Some sky TV and movies available at www.sky.com/skyplayer free for sky subscribers.


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