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Digital switchover nears completion

The digital switchover, the government’s long-term plan to turn off the analogue broadcast signals in the UK, is finally nearing completion.

It feels as if the digital switchover has been going on for donkey’s years. It was seven long years ago that the government first discussed the idea, slowly undertaking the arduous process of making the whole country digital.

We’ve been given warnings about it for a long time, with that rather annoying little white robot telling us we need to prepare.

The first switches started five years ago, when analogue transmitters in Cumbria were turned off forever. Five years and lots of Freeview box purchases later, the final switches are on the horizon.

London switches over

This week marks a big step in the switchover process, with London seeing BBC 2 disappear from its non-digital TV screens.

The capital is undergoing a two-stage switchover process, with the rest of the channels disappearing on 18th April.

The reason for the staggered switch is to allow people to sort out any viewing problems caused by the loss of a channel, and to rush out and buy a set-top box before the 18th.

Why the switchover?

Essentially, the switchover is being done to drag Britain into the 21st Century. Millions of people haven’t used an analogue-only TV for years anyway, and the signal is looking a little dated in this age of technological wizardry.

But that doesn’t mean the government is doing it purely for our benefit – it stands to make a lot of money from the unused analogue signals.

Analysts have estimated that the government stands to make anything between £5 billion and £10 billion from selling the signals – not a bad little money-maker.

There are an estimated one million analogue-only TV sets still in operation. If you’re the owner of one them enjoy it while it lasts, as digital is here to stay.

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