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Govt pledges help for digital TV switchover

No household should be 'deprived of TV'

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The Government has pledged financial and technical support for millions of people to help them cope with the switchover from analogue to digital TV.

Confirming the switchover plans last night culture secretary Tessa Jowell said that the Government wanted "all UK households to benefit from digital TV" and was keen to ensure that no one is left without their gogglebox once the plug is pulled on analogue services.

Part of that will be the availability of affordable digital kit for all.

But for those aged 75 and over and for those with "significant disabilities", the Government has pledged part of the BBC licence fee to upgrade TVs to digital. Help will also be provided making sure the thing works.

Speaking to TV execs last night Jowell set out the timetable for the switchover, which will be carried out on a regional basis. First to go will be the Border TV region, covering the north of England and southern Scotland, in 2008 finishing with Northern Ireland and London and the south of England in 2012.

Speaking last night Jowell said: "I do not underestimate the scale of the technical challenge - requiring the transmission infrastructure to be in place, and viewers to be informed and prepared, so that no household that can get TV now is deprived of their service in the future.

"Nor do I shrink from the inevitable battle for hearts and minds as we seek to convince a minority about the merits of switching to digital."

The switch to digital is to be overseen by "Digital UK" - an independent, not-for-profit company set up by broadcasters. Formally known as Switchco it will keep viewers informed of the upcoming changes. ®

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