When was digital TV switchover in the UK?

In the UK the analogue TV signal was switched off by TV region. This meant that the whole of the UK wasn’t switched over to a digital TV signal at the same time – this process started in 2008 with the Border region and ended in 2012 with the Meridian, London, Tyne Tees, Ulster regions.

The digital switchover in the UK started on November 6 2008, although actually it already started with the launch of Freeview 30 October 2002. With the introduction of Freeview, the UK population started a natural switchover from analogue to digital TV. At the beginning the Freeview TV service offered solely standard defenition (SD) TV channels but later on it also started offering High Definition (HD) channels via digital terrestrial (DVB-T2).

In the UK there are over 1.100 TV transmitters. Around 40 of these transmitters serve very large areas with a single strong signal. However the majority are smaller transmitters that “fill in” the signals where the terrain is hilly.

There have been significant benefits following the switchover to digital, for instance the digital TV transmission uses less bandwidth than analogue and therefore frees up space for other services, or additional channels. A higher quality signal can be achieved and interactive services beyond traditional analogue text were added making multichannel services such as Wimbledon part of our TV experience. Since then digital development has further evolved whereby hybrid services blur the lines between the live and on demand experiences.

When is digital Radio switchover in the UK?

As with the digital TV switchover, the UK will undergo also a switchover from analogue to digital for radio. The actual switchover date has moved a couple of times, whereby analogue switch off is currently anticipated by 2020. It is planned that digital radio switchover will take place no less than two years after the following criteria have been met:
– National digital radio coverage to match FM coverage
– Local digital radio to reach 90% of the population
– 50% of radio listening to be on digital radio platforms

Figures from radio industry audience body Rajar show that over 41.9%% of the UK population is currently listening radio digitally through a mix of the web, DAB and digital TV – up from 37,8% for the corresponding period last year. Roughly 29 million adults have access to a DAB radio, which is up by 10% on last year’s figure. DAB accounts for 66% of the full 433 million digital listening hours, so it’s pretty much the way forward. In addition, people tuning in digitally via DTV is currently at 12% with online listening sitting at 16%.

Probably the single biggest barrier to switchover to digital is caused by the need of converting the car radios in the 33 million vehicles which have FM only radios. According to Ford Ennals, the chief executive officer of Digital Radio UK, the body coordinating the switchover to DAB, there are many changes that have to be made including improving a better coverage of the digital signal.

The issue which could stop Digital Radio UK making the Government’s provisional timetable is not finding a cheap and easy solution which allows older cars to upgrade their radios.

Ulster Central Scotland North Scotland Border Tyne Tees Granada Wales Central Anglia London West West Country Meridian