Viewers confused by digital switchover

The transition from analogue to digital-only TV has already started, beginning with Whitehaven in Cumbria

Digital switchover maybe rolling out across the country, but its arrival isn't cause for celebration by everyone. Ironically the people who actually watch TV the most - the elderly or infirm - are the ones missing out.

This has been confirmed by an Ofcom Consumer Panel report - Going Digital - which says that some affected TV viewers still don't know what equipment they need or how to install it. And often they don't know how to get access the information to help them switch.

Result? A lot of confusion and anxiety among those who see their TV as a lifeline.

The Going Digital report says that even simple solutions - like the provision of a Digital UK hotline number - often go unheeded because viewers are unaware that they even exist.

To get around these issues, the Ofcom Consumer Panel has made the following recommendations:

  • To post Helping Hand Packs to anyone who's eligible for the Digital Switchover Help Scheme (DSHS)
  • To promote the Digital UK helpline
  • To provide a rolling information channel on Freeview that provides switchover info
  • To provide 'Power Questions' in electrical shops telling people about their switchover choices

The Digital Switchover Help Scheme is a joint Government / BBC venture that helps those on low incomes (around seven million homes) make the transition to digital television. If you meet the conditions of the scheme, you could be eligible for a low-cost or even a no-cost set-top box, courtesy of the tax payer.