South West digital TV switchover discussed at Exeter conference

PUBLISHED: 15:07 21 July 2008 | UPDATED: 09:20 10 June 2010

Monday, July 21: REPRESENTATIVES from over 30 charities and public sector agencies from across Devon met with Digital UK to discuss how best to help vulnerable, elderly and isolated people make the switch from analogue to digital TV in 2009.

REPRESENTATIVES from over 30 charities and public sector agencies from across Devon met with Digital UK to discuss how best to help vulnerable, elderly and isolated people make the switch from analogue to digital TV in 2009.

Digital UK - the not-for-profit organisation leading digital television switchover - organised the half-day seminar at the Sandy Park conference centre for people who work with hard-to-reach groups in order to provide information and learn best-practice ahead of switchover.

Information was also provided about the switchover help scheme, run by the BBC under an agreement with the Government, which provides eligible people with practical help and equipment to convert one TV to digital.

People are eligible if they are aged 75 or over, registered blind or partially sighted, or on certain disability benefits.

Councillor Des Hannon, Devon County Council's lead for the Digital switchover said: "I'm delighted to be working with Digital UK to make the big switch as easy as possible for everyone in Devon. We've been aware of the switchover for a long time now and have 'switchover champions' across the council to help get the message out, especially to groups of people who may need extra help.

"The switchover support group provides an excellent way for Digital UK to get feedback directly from grassroots community leaders. Now, just a year out from switchover in our area, Devon County Council welcomes the opportunity to help ensure that every Devon resident is ready for the change."

The conference was attended by Kristy Cooper, deaf project co-ordinator for the Living Options Devon, who is already looking to set up separate sessions with Digital UK for members of the deaf community in Devon.

She said: "The session has been useful as I've learnt a lot more about the digital switchover and the timescale involved. The younger members of the deaf community that I work with tend to be quite technically savvy and know that the switchover is happening and how to prepare, but some of the older members of the Deaf community will need additional reassurance and support. This is a good first step and I hope that we will continue to work with Digital UK to improve the access to information for deaf people in Devon."

Following the conference for organisations working with the elderly, disabled and vulnerable in Devon, Digital UK is planning to hold a quarterly digital switchover support group for the county.

The West Country TV region, which covers all of Cornwall and Devon as well as parts of Somerset and Dorset, will be one of the first parts of the UK to switch to digital, in 2009.

The Beacon Hill transmitter group serving south Devon, including Torbay, will be the first in the West Country to start the switch from an analogue signal on April 8 2009. This will be followed by the Stockland Hill transmitter group, serving south west Somerset, west Dorset and south east Devon, including Exeter on May 6 2009.

The Huntshaw Cross transmitter group, serving North Devon, will begin the transition from analogue to digital broadcasting on July 1 2009.

Shortly afterwards, the Redruth transmitter group, serving west Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly will start the switchover on July 8 2009.

The Caradon Hill transmitter group, serving Plymouth, parts of Devon and east Cornwall will start changing on August 12 2009.

Information leaflets explaining switchover and the options available for going digital are being delivered now to every home in the West Country TV region.

Latest statistics from the Digital UK/Ofcom Tracker survey (to March 2008) indicate that 95 per cent of viewers in the West Country are aware of switchover, and 79 per cent know what they need to do.

More than eight in ten households have converted one television set and over half have converted all televisions in their household.

Viewers in the West Country can check their options for digital TV by visiting Digital UK's website at www.digitaluk.co.uk and entering their postcode.

This gives details of the services viewers can expect before, during and after switchover.

The Digital UK helpline can also be contacted on 08456 50 50 50.

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