Late rush likely as 40% still to make digital TV switch
on 20/10/2012 00:00:00
The Department of Communications has confirmed that, despite a year-long cartoon TV campaign highlighting why people need to change to the new system, 100,000 of the 250,000 households targeted have yet to comply.
And with the Wednesday, Oct 24 switchover deadline looming, a last-minute rush to resolve the problem is now on the cards.
A department spokesman defended the situation, noting that 50,000 people signed up to the new system in the last two weeks of September - the same level as was recorded in the previous six weeks.
He also said the last- minute switchover trend was in line with the experience in other countries which have implemented a nationwide digital TV service.
However, the spokesman acknowledged the fact that two out of every five households whose "primary TV" needed to be changed had yet to do so meant there was potential for problems next week.
"We're broadly in line with the overseas experience, but we had a one-year campaign to try and avoid it," he said. "It looks like the message is finally getting through and people still have time to go down to their retailer to buy a digital TV or separate box."
The potential panic when the analogue TV signal is switched off next Wednesday and replaced by a digital version - meaning anyone with such a TV will see their favourite shows replaced by blank screens the following day - was highlighted by Communications Minister Pat Rabbitte.
Earlier this week, he said he was "unfortunately still encountering some people who believe it [the switchover] won't happen".
"If they don't make the switch before then their screens will go blank."
Anyone seeking to make the switch can sign up to Saorview or other non- RTÉ alternatives.
A small number of people - roughly 2% - who are living in remote rural areas and already have difficulties accessing TV stations will need to sign up to Saorsat or other satellite versions.
This is because many of these people are based in locations where mountains or other natural feature affect their access to station signals.
* Further details are available from RTÉ's saorview.ie. Independent information on all options is available from the Dep-artment of Communications' goingdigital.ie or the helpline 1890 940 980.
Digital TV explained
* When will digital TV replace the current analogue signal?
This will happen on Wednesday, Oct 24.
* What does this mean?
If you have not made the necessary arrangements by this time, your TV screen will go blank and you will not be able to receive channels.
The information campaign is specifically focussed on people who currently access TV signals via an aerial.
* Can I sign up after this date?
Yes, and without any extra cost being imposed on you.
* Why are they doing this?
The introduction of a completely digital signal is part of plans to significantly upgrade Ireland's TV and broadcast facilities.
The clearest reason will be the expected improvement in TV pictures. The move has taken place in other countries before with minimal problems.
* Is the change going to cost me anything?
The RTÉ-backed Saorview option is a national free-to-air facility.
However, non-related pay-TV satellite systems such as UPC or Sky will cost you.
People seeking to switch should purchase either a digital TV box from either Saorview or other alternatives, or a digital TV which should contain a box automatically.
* If I am already signed up to a pay-TV system, what should I do?
Sit back and relax while enjoying your favourite programmes. You've nothing to do.