As the Switchover date for the Channel Islands to move to digital television, of Wednesday 17th November 2010, approaches I thought it would be useful and interesting to research more about it and see what it means for the people of Guernsey.
Since 2008 the UK has been slowly switching from analogue broadcasts (through an aerial) to digital (through an aerial, satellite dish, cable or internet) region by region.
So what does the switchover mean for Channel Island television viewers?
If you already have Sky or Freesat it will not mean as much to you as it will for people with only an aerial. Digital switchover means that the existing television signal (giving you BBC One, BBC Two, ITV1 and Channel 4) will be turned off and replaced with a digital signal.
To receive this you will need a television with a built in digital receiver or an external digital receiver.
Why is the switchover happening in the Channel Islands?
The switchover will allow almost all households in the Channel Islands to receive digital television through an aerial e.g. Freeview for the first time. The existing four analogue channels will be replaced with an expanded line-up of approximately 16 digital TV channels.
What is the difference between digital and the old system?
The digital signal compresses pictures and sounds into computerised pieces of information which are then sent from a transmitter to your TV set. The digital signal therefore takes up less space in the airwaves (bandwidth) than the old system (analogue). This therefore makes it possible to fit more TV channels, radio networks and other services into the same amount of space.
What benefits will digital television provide?
Digital television is better than analogue for many reasons including:
What do I need to do?
You will need to ensure that your television/s are capable of receiving a digital signal in order to continue watching television services after the switchover. Virtually any TV, black and white, can be conducted with a digital box. Anyone looking to purchase new TV equipment should look out for the 'digital tick' logo which means that the equipment is designed to work before, during and after the switchover.
What if I have satellite and cable services?
Viewers with satellite and cable services will not be affected however, if you use terrestrial television for other sets, you will need to ensure these are converted for digital, either through Freeview, satellite or cable.
If I don't do anything will I lose television?
If you have not converted to digital after the switchover you will no longer be able to receive television programmes. You will be able to use your TV sets to play back videotapes, DVDs or games with console.
How much will it cost?
Switching to digital needn't be expensive. The price will vary depending on the digital choices you make. The things to consider are as follows:
The number of TVs in your home you wish to convert
Whether you choose to pay one upfront cost or pay monthly for a subscription service
If you choose to buy a standard digital box, an HD digital box, an integrated digital TV (iDTV) or a digital TV recorder which will also convert your TV to digital
Do I need to buy a new TV?
You DO NOT have to buy a new TV to watch digital television unless you want to because all current TV sets, with a few exceptions, can be converted by connecting to one of the above options but you will need a set-top box. This could come in the form of a Freeview box connected to a television aerial) or a satellite box (Freesat or Sky connected to a satellite dish).
To continue watching TV via an aerial after switchover, viewers will need to convert their television using a digital box or make sure they have an integrated digital set.
Subscription and non-subscription digital TV services are also available via satellite (Sky and Freesat).
A Freeview box is currently available for around £30.00 and a Freesat box can be purchased for around £50.00. However you may need a new aerial to receive Freeview if you are in a poor reception area or a dish to receive Freesat.
What if I live in a flat?
If you live in a flat and share your aerial with others then you will need to talk to your landlord about how they plan to upgrade the system ahead of the switchover. Landlords or managing agents can go to www.digitaluk.co.uk/propertymanagers for more information.
What channels will I receive through an aerial in the Channel Islands after switchover?
With a digi box viewers in the Channel Islands should receive the following Channels:
BBC1, 2, 3 / CBC / BBC News 24 / BBC 1 / BBC Parliament / ITV1 Channel Television / ITV 2, 3 and 4 / Channel 4 / Channel 4 plus 1 / E4 / More 4 / Channel 5 / 12 radio stations / five text information services
You will also be able to receive those and others without a subscription through Freesat or Sky.
This list could change nearer to the switch and it could be the case that more channels become available free to view. You can find out more about the digital TV options by using the postcode checker at - www.digitaluk.co.uk or call the advice line on 08456 50 50 50.
How will the switchover work?
Terrestrial television in the Channel Islands is provided by the Fremont Point transmitter in Jersey and seven 'relay' masts in Jersey, Guernsey and Alderney.
All these transmitters will switch from analogue to digital TV in a two-stage process starting on 17th November 2010.
How will I know that the switchover is happening?
Digital UK will send leaflets to every home in the Channel Islands explaining switchover and the options available for going digital. These leaflets will be backed up with radio and television advertising.
Several months before, on-screen captions reminding viewers to get ready will appear on the television sets of those still watching analogue broadcasts.
Where can I gain support?
Digital UK will work in partnership with the islands' authorities and local organisations to provide advice and assistance for those who may need extra help. This help is in the form of the Switchover Help Scheme which eligible older and disabled people in the Bailiwick (residents of Guernsey, Alderney, Herm or Jethou) will be able to utilise to make the change to digital on one of their TV sets.
For more information about who is eligible please go to the Switchover Help Scheme website - www.helpscheme.co.uk
Is there anywhere else I can gain support?
Guernsey's local Citizens Advice Bureau are offering advice and support and are set to invite charity staff and volunteers to briefing sessions, where they can learn more about what the process entails. The Citizens Advice Bureau can be contacted on 01481 242266.
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I'm Nicole Bromley, Client Relations Manager & Social Media Consultant for thebestof Guernsey. I am a local, have experience in client relations, business development, marketing, communications and social...