Date for digital TV switchover in Suffolk is revealed

THERE is less than a year to go until Suffolk goes digital, bringing Freeview channels to thousands of families for the first-time ever.

Digital UK has today announced they will be turning off the analogue signal for most of Suffolk and Essex from July 6 next year - meaning those who have not upgraded their TVs or installed set-top boxes will be left in the dark.

Peter Monteith, Digital UK’s Regional Manager for Anglia and Central, explained the Sudbury transmitter will be switched off in two stages over the course of a fortnight.

He said: “The switch over will bring free-to-view digital TV to pretty much everyone across the region for the first time.

“The digital coverage in Suffolk is quite poor and people will tell you their screen freezes or they can’t get certain channels, the reason is that the signal is low but we cannot turn it up too high because it will interfere with analogue.

“Once that disappears the strength will improve and all those problems will disappear.”

More than 90 per cent of families have already upgraded their main TV or bought a digital set-set top box but many have neglected other TVs around the house.

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Mr Monteith said: “If the littler sets in the kitchen or bedroom work through an aerial, they will need to be converted as well.

“But you don’t need to throw your old TV away, as long as it has an aerial or scart socket you can connect it to a set-top box.”

He added: “Often when you announce the date of switch over it acts as a spur for people to realise they need to do that.”

Retailers will be stocking up on digital boxes and TVs over coming months and residents over 75, or suffering from certain disabilities, will be sent information about how they can receive discounted equipment and help installing it.

Helen Taylor, Information Manager for Age Concern Suffolk, is pushing the scheme and said: “Whilst we are confident most older people are ready for the digital switch over, we will have a role to play over the coming months in assisting Suffolk’s older residents to make sure they are well informed about the forthcoming changes.”

Colin Smith, of The Street, Rushmere, has already paid for an aerial upgrade to allow him to receive Freeview ahead of the switch over.

He said: “The picture we were getting before was very poor, when we were watching Wimbledon we could barely see the ball.

“It is much better now but the signal for ITV, Channel 4 and Five are still weak, that will only improve once we go digital.”

The aerial was upgraded by Jason Fisher, of Britannia Aerials, based in Witnesham, and he said: “We are expecting it to be pandemonium when the switch over happens because even with the right equipment some people won’t be able to receive all the channels through their old analogue aerial.”