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New figures show significant numbers of the British public are unaware the switchover to digital TV will be taking place.

A survey by consumer watchdog, Which?, said four in ten Britons do not know that the analogue signal will be switched off sometime between 2008 and 2012. Also, only seven per cent of respondents knew what was happening in their area.

Despite the UK being the world leader in digital TV take-up, with Ofcom announcing last month that around 70 per cent of UK households now have a compatible unit, Which? found that some 60 per cent of viewers though it was wrong that people were not given a choice. In fact, nearly one in ten respondents said they would rather give up television than be "coerced" into going digital.

Nearly half of those surveyed did not realise they would need to buy a digital set-top box, Sky, or receive a cable service and 17 per cent said they would not be doing so.

Which? thinks Digital UK, the body set up to raise consumer awareness of digital television, needs to act now to give viewers the information they need to make a smooth transition.

Which.co.uk editor Malcolm Coles said: "We've found that awareness of the digital switchover is alarmingly low, especially when you consider the first region is due to be switched in just two years' time. People need information now so they can plan ahead. Digital UK needs to pull its finger out!"

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