Digital TV switch 'caused madness and mayhem'

Is information lacking?
Is information lacking?

The first major switchover from analogue television to digital has been accused of bringing 'madness and mayhem' to the Borders region by local television retailers.

According to the Radio, Electrical and Television Retailers Association (RETRA to its friends), several local businesses have been left fuming by the switchover.

Digital UK are overseeing the project, and following a small trial in Whitehaven, the Borders launch is the first region to have its analogue signal switched off.

Madness and mayhem

"It has been madness and mayhem, Stuart Allan, Joint Partner of Border Video and TV (B-V-TV) Services in Galashiels told RETRA.

"If something isn't done to sort this confusion out, I dread to think what switchover will be like in more densely populated areas.

"It's fair to say that the technical process took place as planned, but customers have been let down. The information passed on by Digital UK to retailers and consumers alike has been inadequate."

Manual retuning

One of the key problems was apparently the need for manual returning of digital equipment due to interference following the switchover.

'With the Selkirk transmitter group comprising of 11 relays – some situated in close proximity to one another – interference meant that most digital equipment had to be retuned manually.' explains RETRA's press release.

This was compounded by the split switch – which saw BBC 2 analogue switched off first and then the other channels later – in many cases prompting two call outs for the same piece of equipment.

Lack of information

"We needed to know much sooner that customers would have to retune their equipment, added Allan.

"When we were called out to retune a customer's equipment after 6 November, we explained that the same problem would occur later that month.

"We showed them how to retune the products themselves, but as soon as the second switch happened, they were on the phone asking for another call out."

Digital UK response

Digital UK has responded to the comments, telling TechRadar that RETRA had previously expressed support for the measures taken.

"We are fully committed to supporting retailers who have a vital role to play, not only in selling digital TV equipment, but also in providing advice on switchover," a spokseman said.

"We have been working closely with Retra and its members for the last three years, developing measures to help retailers prepare for switchover. In the Scottish Borders, these have included the creation of a staff training scheme (Ask Digital), provision of point of sale materials and regular visits from our local retail support team.

"Prior to issuing its press release of 4 December, Retra had expressed support for these measures and raised no concerns with us.

"Switchover in the Scottish Borders went smoothly for the vast majority of the 52,000 households involved and the 3,000 homes assisted by the Switchover Help Scheme. While many retailers in the Scottish Borders coped well, we are concerned that some Retra members appear to have had difficulty dealing with the volume of customer enquiries.

"We have written to Retra to request a meeting to discuss these matters as soon as possible."

Patrick Goss

Patrick Goss is the ex-Editor in Chief of TechRadar. Patrick was a passionate and experienced journalist, and he has been lucky enough to work on some of the finest online properties on the planet, building audiences everywhere and establishing himself at the forefront of digital content.  After a long stint as the boss at TechRadar, Patrick has now moved on to a role with Apple, where he is the Managing Editor for the App Store in the UK.