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How do I make my TV ready for the digital Switchover?

Britain will complete the Digital Switchover in 2012 and at that point, the traditional analogue TV signal will be switched off forever!

If you haven’t already done so, you’ll need to make sure your TV is ready for the Switchover in your area, so you’re not left unable to watch it.

Not sure what to do? Don’t worry, below is a range of ways for you to easily future proof yourself and make sure you don’t even notice when they turn off the analogue signal.

Do you need a digital aerial?

Yes, even if you have an old style CRT TV and receive only the basic terrestrial channels. The aerial on your house might be capable of receiving digital TV channels. allows you to enter your postcode and find out which Freeview digital Channels you currently receive, and which you will receive after the switchover.

If your aerial won’t be able to receive any digital channels after the change, the Digital Switchover website has a list of trusted and approved aerial fitters available in your area.

Once you know whether your aerial is capable of receiving a digital signal, you then you have a wide range of options.


A Freeview box is subscription free and provides 50 free-to-air TV channels and 24 radio channels. The cost is £19.99 for the basic box, into which you simply plug your aerial cable, and then the box into the TV.

Freeview also offers a top of the line box, which again is a one off cost, but lets you watch HD TV (provided you have an HD ready TV), and is also a digital Video Recorder, so you can record your favourite programmes and films.


Like Freeview, the FreeSat option only requires a one off payment for a TV set top box. It uses a satellite dish rather than an aerial to receive a signal which can result in greater picture quality. Like Freeview, it gives you the choice of a basic entry level box or a HD box with personal video recorder ability. The entry level box is slightly more expensive than Freeview option at £50

If your home has never had Sky TV, then you’ll need to pay for a dish to be installed, however, if the previous owner of your house left a dish behind, or you have stopped subscribing to Sky, you can use the existing dish to pick up the signal, so there is no extra installation costs.


Sky is a monthly subscription service which starts at £18 a month for its basic package, and can include broadband and telephone services. Depending on how many channels you want to pay for, Sky offers several hundred channels and its set top box is a personal video recorder that gives you the option of a wide range of high definition channels (you’ll need an HD ready TV to receive them). The majority of the HD channels need an extra subscription, but the terrestrial HD channels, like BBC HD and C4HD are free to air, so even if you don’t want to pay the extra HD subscription, you can still get fantastic images in your living room. The box will let you record one channel and watch another, and the Any Time function lets you re-watch selected programmes from the last seven days.

Virgin Media

Virgin Media is a cable TV service which, like Sky, runs a monthly subscription based service. Its prices compare very closely with Sky and there are similar options to receive phone and broadband services as part of the subscription.

Virgin’s top of the range V+ box carries HD channels free as part of the standard monthly subscription, although currently there is a much smaller range than Sky. The personal video recording function will let you record two channels and watch a third at the same time, and the On Demand content has an impressive range of free films and programmes available any time you want to watch them. There is even the option to watch the BBC iPlayer as it is built into the box.

Do I need a new TV?

Provided your TV set has a scart socket, you will be able to connect any of the set top boxes we have mentioned above. Only the oldest TV sets offer no connections what so ever, but if your set has only a socket for the standard aerial lead, which comes out of the wall of your house, you will need a new TV set.

If all you want in your living room is a TV set and no set top boxes of any kind, most of the latest plasma, LCD and LED TVs come with built in Freeview or FreeSat. You will still need to check if your house TV aerial is capable of receiving the digital signal, but once it is, your TV will automatically tune in the channels.

Don’t forget!

It is worth remembering that if you have TVs in more than one room, you will need to make sure they are all ready for the Digital Switchover, otherwise, you might find the TV in your bedroom is suddenly blank!

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