Prepare for the Digital Switchover

TV viewers from around the world are quickly gearing up for the coming of the digital revolution. This change in broadcasting represents perhaps the biggest advance in television broadcasting since the first black and white sets rolled off the assembly line.

The good news is that the new digital signals will offer superior performance and exceptional clarity. The bad news is that those who are caught unaware my find that their television sets no longer work at all. TV viewers who don’t want to be left in the dark after the digital revolution has passed should be sure to prepare well in advance.

In the UK the conversion from analogue to digital television is being conducted in stages, with each region converting on its own schedule. The conversion to digital broadcasting began in 2008 and will continue until the last region has been converted in the year 2012. At that time all analogue signals will cease, and only televisions equipped with a digital tuner or converted box will be able to receive the new digital signals.

Throughout the United Kingdom free digital broadcasts are supplied through the Freeview service. The extensive coverage network of the Freeview service has put digital television broadcasts within the reach of virtually every resident of the UK. And while many happy television viewers have already been enjoying these high quality digital broadcasts, those who are still receiving old style analogue signals on outdated television sets will need to get ready as the switchover date for their region approaches.

Preparing for the digital switchover has many advantages for the average televison viewer, so it definitely pays to get started early. One of the most important advantages of early conversion is the ability to view additional channels. These additional changes include BBC Three, S4C2, E4, More 4, ITV2, ITV3, FilmFour, CBBC, Cheebies and more.

Those viewers who choose to subscribe to a pay TV service can enjoy even more channels, including channels dedicated to all manner of sports, movies, art, music and more. Pay TV services also provide the ability for viewers to watch their favorite shows on their schedule, certainly an important consideration for today’s busy world.

In order to enjoy all these digital channels and avoid problems after the conversion, TV owners will need to make sure their sets are equipped with a digital tuner. Those who purchased their televisions within the last year can be reasonably sure that their TV has a digital tuner built in, but those with older sets are likely to have an analogue tuner instead. TV owners who are unsure of their sets’ status should consult their owners’ manuals to determine the type of tuner it contains.

If the TV contains a digital tuner, nothing more need be done to start enjoying all the benefits of digital television. If, on the other hand, the set contains only an analogue tuner, it is time to get going. Viewers with old analogue televisions have a number of choices .

Choice #1 – Upgrade to a New TV

Viewers who have been hankering for a new TV may want to use the analogue to digital crossover as an excuse to buy that beautiful new high definition TV. Buying a new TV is a great way for viewers to be sure their television equipment will be able to handle the new digital broadcasts.

There are of course many different digital ready televisions on the market, at all different price ranges. No matter what the budget, viewers should be able to find a set that meets their needs and the needs of the new digital broadcasters.

Choice #2 – Obtain a Digital Converter Box

Those viewers with older TVs who do not wish to purchase a new TV have another option. Those owners of older televisions can obtain a digital box. These easy to use devices can be attached to virtually any television.

Option #3 – BBC Freesat

BBC Freesat is a superb alternative to Freeview, which currently boasts upto 200 free digital channels, and is also broadcasting certain channels in High Definition, for Free! There are no monthly subscriptions and no contracts. All you pay is a one of cost for installation of a satellite dish and Freesat receiver, and you will be ready to receive the service on offer.

Option #3 – Sky TV

Sky are market leaders in the United Kingdom when it comes to the variety of channels and shows on offer. Currently having the largest channel line up, including High Definition programming, on demand box office movies and further technologies to come, it is easy to understand why this service highly regarded with the british public. However, to receive Sky, you do require to commit to a 12 month contract and pay a monthly fee to receive the package of channels you opt for. However, Sky have their own Sky Freesat system, which is free from any subscriptions, but unlike BBC Freesat, they do not provide HD programming.

There are some additional considerations viewers should be aware of, including the need for accessories and other equipment. Some televisions will need new digital aerials in order to receive consistent signals, and it is a good idea for viewers to start looking at TV aerials long before the cutoff date arrives. Again, shopping early is the best way to get the best deal and the highest quality digital aeriels. Preparing for the digital TV revolution will take some work and some planning, but the superior quality of digital broadcasts will make it well worth the effort.

Aerials & Satellites are installers of digital satellite and aerial equipment, and are on hand to provide advice regarding the digital switchover, and how to ensure you are ready for when it happens.

Jimmy Forsyth
digital television
Image by Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums
Jimmy Forsyth, photographer, 1913-2009.

Jimmy Forsyth was born in Barry, South Wales on 15 August 1913, the son of John and Bertha Forsyth. On leaving school at 14 he became an apprentice fitter in a cement works repair shop, but later joined the merchant navy. He returned to Wales in 1938 to work for ICI at Hirwaun. He moved to Newcastle as a munitions volunteer in 1943 and found a room in Elswick, just off the Scotswood Road, working for ICI at Prudhoe. Just four days after starting work a metal splinter blinded him in one eye, but he continued to work at ICI in other capacities until 1946, when he was sacked. Following this he took various odd jobs, including running a general store for a while. Some time in the 1950s he acquired a camera and began recording the area he lived in. He continued to take photographs until only a short while before his death. In the late 1970s his black and white negatives were acquired for preservation by Benwell Library, and in 1979 the first exhibition of Jimmy’s work was held at the Side Gallery in Newcastle. The publication of Scotswood Road by Bloodaxe Books in 1986, accompanied by another exhibition at the Side, and followed by a Tyne Tees Television documentary No Fancy Shades brought his work to a wider audience. He was awarded the Halina Award for photography in 1987 and an Open University Master’s degree in 2002.

Reference: TWAS: DF.JF.4651(Jimmy Forsyth 2)

(Copyright) We’re happy for you to share this digital image within the spirit of The Commons. Please cite ‘Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums’ when reusing. Certain restrictions on high quality reproductions and commercial use of the original physical version apply though; if you’re unsure please email [email protected]

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