Digital TV, What is digital switchover?

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What is digital switchover?
Starting in 2008 and ending in 2012, television services in the UK will go completely digital, TV region by TV region.

The old ‘analogue’ television signal will be switched off and the digital signal boosted to make it possible for almost every home to get digital television via an aerial.
The switchover process will require everyone’s TV equipment to be capable of receiving a digital signal, either through a digital box or a TV with a box built in.

Why is it happening?

Switchover makes it fairer. Today over two-thirds of UK homes have digital TV. However, one in four cannot get it via their aerial, and many still cannot receive Five. Only by switching off the existing analogue broadcasting system is it possible to boost the digital TV signal and provide people with a greater choice of affordable digital options.

Digital TV is more efficient.

It frees up airwaves that could be used for innovations such as high definition television (HDTV) on Freeview, or mobile television. A world leader in broadcasting. Moving to the best available technology will ensure the UK continues as a world leader in broadcasting.

How will viewers know what to do?

Starting in May 2006, Digital UK will launch major public information campaigns nationally and regionally.

In each area of the country, a communications programme will commence three years prior to switchover.

Digital UK will send a leaflet to every UK household, at least twice, to tell them about switchover and what they need to do.

A website ( and helpline (0845 6 50 50 50) have also been set up to help people through the process.

Viewers can also speak to their local electrical retailer or supplier, who should be able to provide additional advice. A special digital ‘tick’ logo has been created for use in electrical stores to denote products and services that are designed to work before, during and after the switchover process.

A postcode checker on the Digital UK website can tell people which options are available to them ( A quarter of homes can’t get Freeview now, but switchover will increase Freeview coverage significantly to match that of the old analogue signal – 98.5% of households. 

What’s so good about digital TV?

In just the same way that CDs changed the way we listen to music, digital TV transforms the experience of watching television.

It brings many exciting new ways to enjoy your TV, including extra channels, such as BBC Four, ITV2 and E4, interactivity and special services for those with sight or hearing problems.

In some cases, where the analogue signal is weak or suffers from interference, it also improves picture quality. Digital is a more efficient way to broadcast television channels, which makes better use of the limited airwaves (spectrum).

When is it happening?

The map below shows the year in which each region will start to switch. Switchover is a major engineering project which involves converting more than 1,000 television transmitters to digital. It needs to be done region by region so that the process can be undertaken in manageable stages.


Border 2008 - 09

West Country, Granada 2009

Wales 2009 - 10 West,

STV North 2010

STV Central 2010 - 11

Central, Yorkshire, Anglia 2011

Meridian, London, Tyne Tees, Ulster 2012

Channel Islands* 2013


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