Get set for switchover
With just weeks to go until the first analogue TV signals are switched off in the North East, Hartlepool Mail has teamed up with Digital UK to provide readers with this special guide to digital TV switchover.
What is switchover?
Digital TV switchover is the biggest change in television since the introduction of colour. Analogue signals are about to be switched off and replaced with new digital services. This will make Freeview available for the first time to thousands of homes watching local relay transmitters in areas such as Sunderland, Whitby, Morpeth and Berwick-upon-Tweed.
Digital UK is the independent organisation set up by the broadcasters to lead the switchover. It provides an advice line and website to help with general questions about getting digital TV and preparing for the switchover.
John Askew, Digital UKs Regional Manager for the North East, says: Switchover will change forever how television is broadcast. Im delighted that, very soon, viewers who have previously been unable to get Freeview services will be able to do so for the first time. Most people are well prepared; but for those who still have questions, we are here to help.
How will switchover happen?
Switchover will happen in two stages. If you currently receive your TV signal through an aerial, in either analogue or digital format (e.g. Freeview, Top Up TV, BT Vision), you will need to make a note of the information below. Televisions connected to a cable or satellite service are not affected by switchover.
Stage one 12 September 2012
In the early hours, analogue BBC Two will be switched off and replaced with a new digital signal. Local relay TV transmitters will also start to broadcast the BBCs other digital channels for the first time.
Readers switching to digital for the first time via Freeview, Top Up TV or BT Vision will now be able to set up their equipment. Homes already watching these services should retune their digital TVs and boxes.
Stage two 26 September 2012
All remaining analogue channels will be switched off and replaced with additional digital services. Everyone watching Freeview, Top Up TV or BT Vision will need to retune their equipment again to receive all available channels.
On both dates, these changes will happen overnight. For most viewers, services will be restored by the morning. Households receiving their TV signal from local relay transmitters will receive new digital services later in the day and should tune in for the first time or retune from this point.
How to retune
Viewers watching Freeview, Top Up TV or BT Vision will need to do a full retune of their equipment at both stages of switchover in order to continue receiving services. You should retune from time to time in order to keep your Freeview box up to date. Sometimes channels move around so if you should lose access to several channels, try retuning to restore them.
To do a full retune your Freeview, Top Up TV or BT Vision equipment, follow these steps (these instructions are a guide only each product works slightly differently).
1.Make sure your Freeview TV or box is on and in digital mode. Press menu on your remote control.
2.Select the set up or installation option. If you see picture icons, select the tool box, satellite dish or spanner.
3.If you are prompted for a code, try 0000 or 1234.
4.Select the full retune option. This is sometimes called first time installation, factory reset, default settings or shipping conditions. Do not select channel update or add channels.
5.Press OK if your equipment asks if you want to delete all your channels, dont worry this is normal.
6.Channels will automatically be installed. This may take a few minutes and your equipment may shut down and restart
After a retune, if you are not receiving your preferred regional service, you are likely to find your preferred services further down the channel list. If you want to make your preferred services easier to find, you can either use the favourites list or channel settings. See your instruction manual for more details.
If you find you are missing some channels or your equipment has stopped working, visit digitaluk.co.uk/retuning for more information. If you cant do this yourself, you might want to consult friends or family who could do it for you, or otherwise call out an installer (see Common questions).
To watch a short video showing you how to retune, and for specific retuning instructions for the most popular Freeview products, visit digitaluk.co.uk/retuning.
Getting digital TV
If you only receive five or fewer analogue channels through an aerial on any of your sets, youll need to think about converting them for switchover otherwise you risk being faced with a blank screen once analogue signals are switched off.
There are three main ways to go digital:
Convert your existing analogue TV using a digital box (e.g. Freeview, Top Up TV or BT Vision).
Have a digital TV service, such as satellite or cable TV, installed for you. Providers include Sky, freesat and Virgin Media.
Buy a new TV with digital (Freeview or freesat) built in.
Remember, almost everyone will be able to watch Freeview after switchover even homes currently out of coverage. You can check the options for going digital in your area, and what channels will be available through your aerial, using the postcode checker at digitaluk.co.uk. Extra channels are available through other digital TV services, such as satellite or cable.
Virtually any TV set, including black and white ones and those without Scart sockets, can be converted using a digital box.
Where can I get face-to-face advice on switchover? Digital UK has been working closely with charities to organise local advice points during switchover. These will be staffed by trained volunteers and are open to everyone. There are also Digital UK roadshows in the region. To find out where your local advice point or roadshow will be, visit digitaluk.co.uk/tyneteesevents or call 08456 50 50 50.
What about my video recorder? After switchover, video and analogue DVD recorders will still play back and record, but you wont be able to record one channel while you watch another. If you want to continue doing this after switchover, the simplest way is to get a digital TV recorder. These also allow you to record a whole series at the touch of a button, and pause and rewind live TV.
Will I need a new aerial to receive Freeview? Most rooftop aerials will be fine after switchover, but a small proportion of aerials may need replacing to receive Freeview.
Digital UK recommends that you wait until after switchover to see if your aerial needs replacing in order to avoid having unnecessary work carried out. You can check whether your existing aerial is likely to be suitable for receiving digital by visiting the aerial test page on teletext page 284.
After switchover, homes served by the Bilsdale transmitter will need a wideband aerial to continue receiving all available commercial channels, such as ITV3, Dave, 5 USA and QVC.
Where can I find a good aerial installer? Look for a Registered Digital Installer (RDI) with the digital tick logo. Go to rdi-lb.tv or call Digital UK on 0845 650 50 50 for more information. If you cant find an RDI locally, look for someone with Associate RDI or CAI Plus status or ask your local electrical retailer.
What channels will I get? Which channels you receive depends on the transmitter you receive your signal from. Viewers served by a local relay transmitter will receive around 15 Freeview channels for the first time. These will include BBC One, BBC Two, ITV1, Channel 4 and Channel 5, plus all the other channels from the BBC (those funded by the licence fee) and some other services from the public-service broadcasters.
Viewers served by a larger main transmitter will receive these channels as well as some extra services from commercial broadcasters. These extra channels are also available via satellite. You can check which Freeview channels are available in your area by using the postcode checker at digitaluk.co.uk, or by calling 08456 50 50 50. This also gives you information about satellite and cable options in your area.
The Switchover Help Scheme
Thousands of people in the North East (the Tyne Tees TV region) have already taken up help from the Switchover Help Scheme. Run by the BBC under an agreement with the Government, its an official scheme which makes switchover easy for older and disabled people by giving practical help to switch one TV in their home.
People are eligible for the Help Scheme if they are:
aged 75 years or over;
eligible for attendance or constant attendance allowance, or mobility supplement, or disability living allowance;
registered blind or partially sighted; or have been living in a care home for six months or more.
If youre eligible, you will be offered equipment thats easy to use, delivery or installation and a demonstration of how to use it, together with a choice of options. We will also check your aerial and upgrade it where we can, if its needed. There is a freephone number to call for help while you get used to things.
Most people will be asked to pay 40 towards the standard offer of help. For eligible people on income-related benefits, its free. Eligible people can also choose from a range of other Help Scheme options, sometimes at a higher cost.
If you know an older or disabled person who might still need help to switch to digital TV, you could lend a helping hand and give them the message about the Switchover Help Scheme. Even if they have digital TV already, they can get help to switch another TV set in their home.
All you need to do to get the help is respond to the information pack which has been sent to every eligible persons home. But you must respond to get the help. The Help Scheme will close for applications in Tyne Tees region on 26 October.
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