Annual report 2010

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Switchover progress

Alex Pumfrey  Alex Pumfrey, Programme Director at Digital UK, reviews the progress of switchover - the biggest change to television since the introduction of colour.

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Switchover is happening across the UK between 2008 - 2012. The process had been completed in seven TV regions at 31 March 2011

Digital UK oversees the delivery of switchover in each region, ensuring activities remain on track and that both our viewers and industry partners are well prepared. In the year to 31 March 2011, there were 12 switchovers across four TV regions, each requiring their own individual plans.

As switchover continues, research and insights gathered by our local teams in each region are regularly reviewed and incorporated into our planning. For example, this year we have developed more comprehensive advice for viewers who may be affected by overlapping signals at switchover. A new online tool provides advice on manually retuning Freeview equipment, enabling viewers to select their most appropriate regional services.

'Every aspect of the programme was reviewed to ensure the necessary resources were in place.'

Thanks to the work of our team in Scotland and a strong community spirit which saw family and friends supporting each other, call volumes were also well below our expectations in STV North.

The year ended with switchover in the Channel Islands in November, which brought Freeview to the islands for the first time. For terrestrial viewers, this meant an increase from four to around 15 channels, including all the services funded by the TV licence fee.  Although some commercial channels are not available on Freeview in the islands, we ensured this was made clear in our local information and provided advice about alternatives, such as satellite.

While managing the switchovers of the last year, we also devoted considerable time planning for 2011, which will be the biggest year for switchover in terms of the number of homes affected.  Every aspect of the programme was reviewed to ensure the necessary resources were in place. This preparation will provide a firm foundation for the year ahead when some 40 per cent of the country will move into an era in which everyone enjoys the benefits of digital TV.

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