Ready for the digital switch over?

Attending apresentation about the digital switchover and personal budgets at the South Yorkshire Centre for Inclusive Living in Kirk Sandall.
Attending apresentation about the digital switchover and personal budgets at the South Yorkshire Centre for Inclusive Living in Kirk Sandall.

THIS month television broadcasters will start turning off the analogue signal in South Yorkshire. Here are the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions.

WHAT What is the digital TV switchover?

The process of converting the UK’s terrestrial television system to digital. By the end of September, every transmitter site in Yorkshire will have been switched off and replaced with Freeview digital TV services.

* Will your telly still work?

If your TV currently receives only four or five channels you will need a digital box, a satellite dish, or cable to receive a signal. If you currently receive more than five channels you do not need any new equipment.

* What happens at switchover and what do viewers need to do?

Switchover is a two-stage process. In the first stage, BBC2 will cease broadcasting in analogue. At stage two, the remaining analogue channels will be permanently switched off and replaced with additional digital services.

All Freeview, BT Vision and Top Up TV viewers will need to retune their equipment at both stages of switchover.

By this time viewers must make sure their TVs can receive a digital signal to continue receiving television services after switchover.

Virtually any TV, even black and white sets, can be converted with a digital box.

* Do you need a new aerial?

Digital signals need an external aerial to work, so anyone using a set-top aerial will need to get one installed. Most external aerials will receive a digital signal. But around five to 10 per cent of households may need to replace damaged or very old aerials to receive Freeview signals.

* When will it happen here?

That depends where you live. The Sheffield and Chesterfield transmitters will stop broadcasting BBC2 on August 10, and will be switched off altogether on August 24.

Transmitter

Many people in South Yorkshire receive a signal from the Emley Moor transmitter near Huddersfield.

The Emley Moor transmitter will stop broadcasting BBC2 on September 7 and will be turned off completely on September 21.

Some houses in the Doncaster area may get a signal from Belmont in Lincolnshire, which is switched off in stages – on August 3 and August 17.

The transmitter you receive your signal from depends on the hills around your house, so some Sheffield or Rotherham residents may get a signal from Emley Moor or even Belmont.

The online postcode checker at www.digitaluk.co.uk will tell you which transmitter is most likely to serve your set, but if you have an analogue TV you will know for sure – when a switchover message is beamed direct to your screen from the relevant transmitter.

* What are the different ways to get digital TV?

There are three main options:

* Convert your existing TV with a set-top box that costs as little as £20.

* Get a service like satellite or cable TV installed for you – such as Sky, Freesat or Virgin Media.

* Get a new TV with digital built in.

* How much does digital TV cost?

For those getting digital for the first time, or for those who are converting other sets around the home, the cost will vary according to the number of TVs and method of conversion.

* Freeview boxes start from £20.

* Digital televisions start from around £150.

* Freesat from Sky costs approximately £175 – including installation.

* Freesat from BBC/ITV costs from £30 for a digital box or £450 for a digital TV. Satellite dish installation – if required – from £80.

* Subscriptions, such as Sky or Virgin, start from approximately £10 per month.

* Digital television recorders cost from around £80.

* A standard new roof aerial normally costs £60 to 180.

* What channels will you get?

Viewers using Freeview services via a digital box will be able to receive BBC1, BBC2, ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5, plus around 40 digital channels.

* What other equipment is affected by the switchover?

Analogue video recorders will still be able to play video-tapes and DVD recorders will still play discs, but the machines will only be able to record the digital channel your television is tuned into at the time – so you will no longer be able to set up your video to record programmes in advance.

To do that you would need to buy a new digital recorder.

Help available

Digital UK, an independent not-for-profit organisation set up by the main broadcasters to implement the switchover, operates an advice line on 08456 50 50 50 as well as the www.digitaluk.co.uk website.

The BBC’s Help Scheme offers extra help to anyone aged 75 or over, who has lived in a care home for six months or more, who gets certain disability benefits or who is registered blind or partially sighted. They qualify for: equipment to convert one television, installation and follow-up support for a flat fee of £40. The service is free for some benefit claimants.

The Help Scheme is available in South Yorkshire until October 21 this year. To find out if you are eligible call 0800 4085900.

Key dates

* August 3 and August 17 – some parts of Doncaster

* August 10 and August 24 – most of Sheffield and Rotherham

* September 7 and September 21 – Barnsley, Doncaster and some parts of South Yorkshire

Rogue traders

RESIDENTS are urged to be on their guard against rogue traders in the run-up to the digital television switchover.

Trading Standards officers have warned customers to buy goods and services only from reputable retailers and traders carrying the ‘digital tick’ logo.

People are also warned not to buy equipment from uninvited callers and not to agree to work on the spot.