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Frequently Asked Questions

I bought an HD Television last year, will I be ready for digital?

HDTV refers to a new standard of screen definition that provides a sharper screen image than standard definition pictures. An HD-ready TV is not necessarily an integrated digital TV. You should look for the 'digital tick' logo which shows that the product is designed to work through switchover. HDTV services are already available via subscription satellite and cable. They may be available in the future on other platforms, including terrestrial TV, but this would require you to buy a new box.


After the switchover, what will happen to the released bandwidth?

Current analogue transmission is not an efficient use of broadcast space or bandwidth. To give an example in simple terms, one 'channel' which currently transmits one analogue television signal will be capable of carrying 6-8 Digital television signals, increasing choice for all viewers.
Ofcom is currently consulting on the Digital Dividend Review. This outlines the decision process about use of the spectrum and ensures that public policy considerations are taken into account. Potential uses for the released spectrum could include high definition services, mobile television and other new services.


Will analogue radio be affected by Switchover?

The analogue radio service is unaffected by the digital TV switchover. Digital UK is unable to offer advice or information regarding the availability of DAB digital radio; however further information is available from the BBC at www.bbc.co.uk/digitalradio


I have received a letter from the Digital Conversion Scheme. What is this?

The company trading as 'Digital Conversion Scheme' has no relation to the Government, any public authority or Digital UK.


What features does digital TV offer for those with sight and hearing problems?

Some digital boxes have special access features such as subtitles, signing and audio description for people with hearing or sight problems. For more information please call the RNIB on 0845 766 9999 or the RNID on 0808 808 0123.


Will switchover mean that strangers will be visiting my house?

Digital UK will not be sending anyone around to your house. When you are buying, renting or installing digital TV equipment, look for retailers, manufacturers and installers that display the digital tick logo which indicates products and services that are designed to work through switchover.


What impact will the disposal of analogue TVs have on the environment?

Digital switchover itself does not require any equipment to be thrown away. Many people already have compliant TVs and/or other suitable equipment. That trend will increase over the next few years.

Latest research prepared for Government by the Market Transformation Programme confirms that switchover is not expected to cause any significant overall increase in TV or recorder disposals but may affect the timing of disposal of some equipment that people choose not to adapt – such as rarely used TV sets.

Government will continue to work with Digital UK to ensure that consumers have up to date information and do not unnecessarily dispose of television equipment, and will continue to encourage manufacturers and retailers to develop and promote equipment that is switchover-compliant, reducing the need for future equipment disposals.

Any waste electrical equipment produced as a result of the switchover will be disposed of subject to the requirements of the EU Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Directive. The WEEE regulations, which implement the Directive, make producers of electrical goods financially responsible for the collection, treatment and recycling of waste electrical and electronic equipment.


What is being done to improve energy efficiency of digital TV equipment?

Various actions are being taken to encourage the reduction of energy consumption for digital TV equipment as far as possible:

  • consumer information from Digital UK and Government is highlighting the "Energy Saving Recommended" logo, and its use on digital TVs and set-top boxes with relatively low levels of energy consumption;
  • manufacturers are being encouraged to reduce both the "on" and the stand-by power consumption of household appliances through the adoption of design improvements, voluntary codes of conduct, and best practice guidelines and targets;

Government is committed to using its own purchasing power to bring forward more sustainable products.


What impact will digital switchover have on energy consumption?

Household power consumption will increase due to switchover, but this will be partly offset by significant savings in energy used by the transmission networks – even the fully rolled out digital network will use a fraction of the power that the older analogue networks use.

The central estimate for the total impact of switchover is a net increase of 1,705GWh per year. This would be reduced if more energy-efficient TV equipment was used.


Why can't digital signals be boosted or a new transmitter built to serve my area now?

The number of transmitters broadcasting digital services cannot be increased until the analogue television services start to be switched off. This is because interference would be caused to other signals. The same is true for power increases at those transmitters that already broadcast digital services.


Why is switchover happening region by region? Can't it all be done at once?

Switchover is happening by region to minimise interference between different transmitters and reduce any risks of disruption to the implementation plan. Over 1,000 transmitters have to be converted to digital operation and it is not practical to complete this in less than about four years.


Will the licence fee pay for digital switchover?

The costs assigned to support switchover will be less than 20% of the total proposed increase in the licence fee.

Digital UK welcomes the BBC's support. Switchover is a monumental challenge, and requires a properly funded organisation (Digital UK) to manage it. The proposed funding will help to make its implementation as smooth as possible, and help to ensure that viewers are properly advised and reassured about switchover. With the BBC's support, switchover will ensure that the UK will enjoy a digital future of increased choice and high-quality programming.


Will switching to digital affect my TV licence?

No. The TV licensing requirements for digital television are the same as for analogue. A TV licence is required to install or use a television receiver to watch any television programme service. The TV licence fee is payable whether or not you receive or watch any BBC programmes.

Over 70 per cent of UK households have already switched to digital and continue to pay their television licence fee as before.


Will switching to digital mean that I can get High Definition TV (HDTV)?

No. HDTV is a new technology that will enable viewers to get higher definition television pictures. An HD-Ready TV is not necessarily a digital TV. Make sure that it carries the digital 'tick' logo, or get a digital box, to ensure that you are set for digital.


What is the Digital Tick logo?

The 'digital tick' is a certification mark that appears on products and services that are designed to work before, during and after switchover. It will also be seen on badges worn by retail staff who are trained to answer questions about digital TV switchover, and is used to identify aerial installers accredited as Registered Digital Installers (RDI).


I have a portable television. What do I need to do to go digital?

You will need to get a digital box at a one-off cost. Look for the 'digital tick' logo and ask a retailer for more information.

Whilst the vast majority of televisions can be converted to receive a digital signal, your television needs to have either a scart or RF input. An example of this kind of portable TV is DVB (Digital Video Broadcasting).

Unfortunately if your portable television does not have either of these inputs it cannot be converted to receive digital television.


Will a set-top aerial work for Freeview?

Usually a rooftop aerial is more reliable for Freeview boxes. However, if you have good reception now, a set-top aerial may work in certain circumstances. Please see the survey from Ricability which provides advice on set-top aerials.


What is Freeview?

Freeview is a free digital TV service bringing you channels including ITV2, E4 and BBC Three. Freeview also offers access to digital radio stations such as BBC 6 Music as well as "red button" interactive services and digital text.


Will I have to throw out my TV, especially if it's old?

No. With very rare exceptions, all TVs can be converted to digital with a digital box - even black and white ones.

If your television was manufactured after 1996, it will have a Scart socket. This means it can be connected to a digital box with a Scart lead, which is the best quality connection.

If your TV does not have a Scart socket on the back, and has only a small round aerial socket instead, you can still adapt it for digital. Just make sure you ask your retailer for a digital box with an "RF modulator" built in. This means the box can be plugged into the small aerial socket without the need for a Scart lead (please note that the signal with an RF through-loop or RF modulator will not be as good as the one through a Scart socket). These typically start at about £25. Check a price comparison site such as www.pricerunner.co.uk for the best deals.

Unfortunately if your television does not have either of these inputs it cannot be converted to receive digital television.

More information about Scarts


Why should I have to pay because someone else has decided to change TV?

The Government wants everyone in the UK to benefit from digital TV. Switchover is taking place because it will provide everyone with better, more varied television, irrespective of where they are in the UK, and broader access to a wider range of digital services.

Digital TV is also more efficient. It can carry many more channels than analogue and will free up spectrum that can be used for a range of services, such as more TV services in either standard or high definition, mobile TV, wireless broadband, local TV, wireless home hubs and many others.

Digital switchover is Government policy, so if you have further questions about the policy you can contact the Department for Culture, Media and Sport or the Department of Trade and Industry.


If I don't do anything, will I lose my TV?

Yes - if you don't already have digital TV and don't do anything, you won't be able to continue watching television broadcasts after switchover (Remember, you probably already have digital TV if you can receive more than the five traditional channels). You will also need to ensure that every TV set in your home that you want to use to watch TV broadcasts can receive digital TV. Any TV set that you use solely to play back videotapes or DVDs, or with a games console, will not need to be converted.


I can't currently get Freeview. Does this mean that I will lose my TV after switchover?

No. One of the reasons that switchover is happening is so that more people can get Freeview (TV through their aerial). It's only by switching off the old analogue signal that power for the digital signal can be increased. All households currently capable of receiving analogue television are expected to be able to receive digital terrestrial television provided their aerial is in reasonable condition and correctly installed.


What kind of digital TV is available in my area?

Enter your postcode into the Digital UK postcode checker on this page to find out which options are currently available in your area. Remember, once switchover happens, the coverage of digital TV through an aerial (e.g. Freeview) will increase significantly. If you get a good picture on the traditional system now, you should be able to get a digital signal through your aerial (via a digital box) at switchover.


What channels will be available as a result of switchover?

Switchover will make Freeview available to virtually all UK households, up from 73% at the start of the programme.

All households within terrestrial coverage will be able to receive the main five public-service channels (BBC1&2, ITV1, C4, Five) and associated digital-only services, including BBC Three, BBC Four, BBC News 24, itv2, itv3, E4 and more4, around 18 channels in all. A range of digital radio services will also be available.

Switchover will also significantly increase availability of non-public service Freeview channels, such as Sky Three and Price Drop TV.

Later this year, Digital UK will launch a new online service which will tell people which Freeview channels will be available in their area at switchover.


Why is it happening?

Switchover makes it fairer for everyone. Currently, one in four UK homes cannot get digital TV via their aerial and many still cannot receive Five. Only by switching off the existing "analogue" broadcasting system is it possible to boost the digital signal and get it to parts of the country that can't currently receive it.


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