Digital TV Guides

The digital divide

Digital Switchover Help Scheme

Updated: Wednesday 25 February, 2009


The governmentís digital TV rollout began in 2008. If you havenít switched over to digital television (DTV) by the time your analogue signal is turned off, you wonít be able to watch TV.

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While more than 15 million people currently enjoy DTV, the Government plans to increase this so that 98% of the UK - including those who cant afford, or donít want to sign up to lengthy subscriptions - can access some form of DTV.

However, because consumers will have to either get a set-top box, a digitally integrated television or subscribe to a digital TV provider, there are fears that vulnerable and socially isolated people may be left behind in the digital switchover (Ofcom, 2006).

What help is available for the digital switchover?

The BBC is using money taken from the TV licence fee to fund a help scheme for the elderly, blind and partially sited, and those with significant disabilities (anyone receiving attendance allowance or disability living allowance).

Those eligible will be provided with equipment to convert one television set, receive help with installation, and will also receive follow-up support, with specific support for blind and partially sited users.

The BBC and the government have budgeted to provide this support for free for the poorest eligible households on income support, job seekerís allowance or pension credit. Other households will be charged £40 if they qualify for help. See useful links for more information on the Help Scheme.

Those eligible will be sent more information before their area goes digital, or check the useful links for more information.

What if Iím not eligible for digital switchover help?

Unfortunately the government has no plans to subsidise set-top boxes for those on low incomes. However, there are a series of options available for people needing to switch. These range from a one-off payment for a set-top box - starting from around £20, to paying a monthly subscription to a DTV provider - where your costs depend on your package. Or if you are in need of a new TV, you could buy an integrated digital television set but these are more costly.

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the article states that people on job seekerís allowance could be eligible for the help scheme after ringing up i found this is not the case and could be misleading although you could possible get it if your on income support and on twice as much money as some one on jsa (huh go figure) - Nov 8 2010 5:04PM
daniel, UK

prior to switchover - digital not available. But had Freeview set top boxes from previous address.
First switchover date - all went well - lost BBC2 but gained correct number of digital channels.
Second switchover date - lost remaining channels - but gained others when retuned.
30 September 2009 - lost the lot!!!!!!!

We can't get anything,anywhere in the house.

- Oct 17 2009 5:07PM
D Watkins, Llandysul, Ceredigion, Wales

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