Digital TV

Summary: Information and advice on digital television and what the switch over from analogue means.

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Digital television (DTV) is replacing analogue television all over the world. This development is necessary because of the higher quality of the picture provided by DTV and the need to cope with the growing number of television channels. DTV channels require less band width space so more channels can be compressed into the space required by analogue channels.

Further, some of the problems associated with analogue channels – ghost or shadow pictures, noise interference and the occasional degradation of both sound and picture quality – are eliminated by using DTV.

The switch from analogue digital is taking place now in global campaign to improve both picture quality and reliability. The switch in the UK and Ireland is due to be completed by 2012 whilst other countries are working to deadlines stretching up to 2015.

The USA is leading the field in this changeover but problems on the disposal of obsolete analogue TV sets are causing serious environmental concerns there. It is estimated that about 100 million analogue sets have been taken out of use to date but only a small proportion have been disposed of correctly and the rest are either awaiting disposal or have already been dumped in landfill sites. These sets contain lead, cadmium and chrome so the concerns are well founded.

Viewers who continue to use analogue sets will notice a deterioration in the picture quality and this will either become a gradual process or, in some cases, can be a sudden close down. Some areas of the UK have already switched to digital TV. The first to change was Whitehaven in 2007 and the next will be Anglia TV who will change in March 2011.

To receive DTV a wideband aerial must be installed that can receive signals from local transmitters across the whole frequency band. The exact type of aerial will depend upon the strength of the signal and they range from strong signal areas (SSA) to weak to medium signal areas (WMSA). It may be possible in some areas to receive on acceptable signal from an aerial standing on top of the TV set or placed in the roof space but most will require an external aerial fixed to a wall or chimney stack. When making the change to DTV, it is worth considering the number of TV sockets you will require in the future as well as your current needs.

One of the problems in running a campaign that affectsnearly every household in UK is the interest being shown in it by cowboy aerial installers. Bona fide installers are members of the Register of Digital Installers (RDI) and any individual or firm who is not a member and cannot produce an ID card should be treated with caution. The RDI employs inspectors who monitor the activities of digital installers and work in close contact with local Trading Standards officers and the police. Although there is no evidence that the activities of these rogue operators is widespread this is almost certainly due to the tight security surrounding the digital changeover. The Confederation of Aerial Industries (CAI) are also involved in this scheme and their members offer free advice to the public on aerial matters.

There are various other help and advice websites available online and certain categories of people can receive financial assistance to help pay for the digital changeover. These include people over 75 years old, those receiving allowances for Disability, Attendance or Mobility plus people living in care homes.

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