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The government is looking at a multi-million pound scheme to get more UK citizens using digital TV by giving away the sets for free.

TV and other media companies, the government and retailers and Internet pioneers all seem to think that digital TV and Net access through the TV is the future. It's just a shame no one has told the public.

Figures of one in three are being given as a too-low estimate of how many people have switched to the new format. We are sure even this is optimistic. However, the current analogue system of TV broadcasting is due to be turned off completely in five years and the government has foreseen a PR nightmare when millions of people switch on their sets one day to find nothing but static.

Because of this, it is looking at ways of promoting digital TV and getting people to switch over in the next few years. One of these schemes involves providing large areas of the country with free digital TVs in return for monitoring rights over what they use them for.

Although it is loathe to spend any money, the switch will prove extremely beneficial to the government. Politically, it could be a timebomb, but the uptake of digital TV is essential if the government is to push ahead with its Internet plans. The government is known to think that the TV will be the main way in which the UK will access the Internet and it is holding back resources so they can be channelled through this medium.

And then there's the huge amount of money it can make from the planned auction of the spectra currently used by analogue TV. ®

Bootnote

The Daily Mail says: "There will be no restrictions on which Web sites they access, raising the prospect of some people using taxpayer-funded equipment to surf for porn."

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