26m TVs need to be switched to digital

Wednesday, 27 February 2008 12:00

Some 26 million TV sets need to be converted or replaced before 2012.

A study by the National Audit Office into the digital switchover reveals the size of the problem – but also found 85 per cent of households had switched from analogue.

However, 31 per cent of people do not understand they will need equipment to keep watching TV, with those in ethnic minorities and non-English speaking groups especially unaware.

Furthermore, in the first seven months of 2007, 45 per cent of all TVs sold were still analogue.

This was in part due to staff in electrical stores not understanding the digital switchover. In a mystery shopper exercise, half of retail staff could not explain the ‘digital tick’ on digital TVs and what it meant.

Tim Burr, head of the National Audit Office, said: “The government’s digital switchover programme will affect almost every home in the UK and most of the costs will be met by consumers.

“Progress so far is encouraging, but there is a long way to go with almost one third of licence fee payers still not understanding switchover, up to 26 million analogue television sets yet to be replaced or converted and nearly 1,200 transmitter sites to be upgraded.”

The total cost to consumers of from the digital switchover is calculated to be £3.8 billion. Some £603 million has been put aside from the licence fee to aid specific groups.

The government claims the additional services available with digital TV will benefit the economy to the tune of £6.3 billion.

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