UK town begins digital switchover

UK town begins digital switchover

Whitehaven first to see analogue TV switched off

Whitehaven in Cumbria will become the first town in the UK to lose its analogue TV signal when it is switched off tomorrow.

BBC2 will be the first station to go, and all other channels will be tuned out by 14 November to be replaced by digital channels.

The area comprises 25,000 households, all of which have been bombarded with information about the switchover.

"We have been seeing an unprecedented amount of set-top box and hard disk recorder sales," Craig Carruthers, an employee at Whitehaven's Currys Digital store, told the BBC.

"People are aware that they have to do something rather than be left with a blank TV screen.

"It is going to give Whitehaven a name now, and I think people are quite happy that our town will be the first for something, rather than London or places like that."

However, a survey by Digital UK found that almost 10 per cent of Whitehaven residents have not upgraded their equipment to receive the digital signal.

The whole of the UK will lose its analogue signal by 2012. The government has promised special help to citizens over 75 and those with significant disabilities if they are on Income Support, Job Seeker's Allowance or Pension Credit.

Mary Bradley, director of Age Concern in North West Cumbria, said: "Age Concern and other organisations have worked tirelessly to try and reach as many people as possible to ensure switchover is a success.

"I urge everyone to help by checking to see whether their relatives, friends and neighbours are experiencing difficulties, and if so, whether they have the support they need."