U.K. Analog TV Signals to End October 2012

Digital switchover for the whole of the U.K. and Ireland

The British government has announced that analog TV broadcasting will officially end on October 24, 2012.

The U.K. has been phasing out analog broadcasting since 2007, when the northern English town of Whitehaven switched to a digital signal. Digital U.K., the non-profit company set up by the government to oversee the switchover, has been moving consumers from analog to digital signals on a region-by-region basis since then. The process has now been completed in most of the U.K.

The BBC reports that the four remaining regions to switch next year are London, Meridian in the south of England, Tyne Tees in the north east of England, and Northern Ireland. The last analog television signals will be switched off in Northern Ireland on October 24 next year. Ireland has also announced that it will complete its digital changeover by the same date.

David Scott, the Digital U.K. chief executive, called the 80 years of analog television “a defining period for TV”. “But the fully digital age will be even better,” he said, “with a greater choice of channels for viewers everywhere.”

The government had set aside millions of pounds to prepare people for the switchover, particularly vulnerable people, such as the elderly, disabled, and those in remote rural areas.

The U.K. is one of the last countries to embrace a totally digital signal. The Netherlands moved to digital broadcasting in 2006, while the U.S. had shut of most of its analog signals by June 2009, with the exception of some emergency “nightlight” services.

Writing in 2008, David Rehr, then president and CEO of the National Association of Broadcasters in the U.S., called the switch from analog to digital TV "the most significant advancement of television technology since color TV was introduced.”