UK Analog Switch-Off For Digital TV By 2012: Confirmed

SwitchCo: UK Digital TV Unveiled This Week?In her speech to the Royal Television Society in Cambridge this evening, Rt. Hon. Tessa Jowell confirmed digital switchover and outlined the timetable for switching by region.

Digital switchover will happen between 2008 and 2012 by ITV region in the following order:

2008 – Border
2009 – West Country, HTV Wales, Granada
2010 – HTV West, Grampian, Scottish Television
2011 – Yorkshire, Anglia, Central
2012 – Meridian, Carlton/LWT (London), Tyne Tees, Ulster

UK Digital TV By 2012 ConfirmedThis regional order has been determined by a technical criteria determined by the broadcasters and Ofcom. The regional order will follow ITV regions. This ensures that the impact on ITV regional advertising markets is minimised.

Jowell also reiterated the Government’s pledge that digital switchover will be platform neutral. As reported earlier on OW, SwitchCo, which will be renamed ‘DigitalUK’ will launch tomorrow, and will oversee the switchover process, marketing and neutrality.

Jowell also outlined a programme to help vulnerable consumers. Households with one person over 75 and those with one person receiving disability allowances will be eligible for help and subsidy. The assistance scheme will be funded by the BBC through the licence fee (which is therefore obviously secure despite not Bill yet being in place).

It remains to be seen whether the BBC will be limited in how it promotes technologies in which it has a vested interest like DTT (Freeview) to these households.

UK Digital TV By 2012 ConfirmedComment – It is interesting that London will be switched in 2012. Same year as we host the Olympics.

It is also worth noting the name change of SwitchCo to DigitalUK. This suggests a role beyond digital television, with the organisation being ambitious in its aims and looking to embed the most sophisicated digital technologies at the core of the home. Only by taking this approach will switchover be genuinely enabling for citizens, narrowing rather than extending the digital divide.

Tessa Jowell