Cookstown makes a date with digital

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COOKSTOWN will go digital on 24 October next year, meaning more channels and better television pictures for thousands of viewers.

The date for the digital TV switchover was highlighted by Digital UK’s robot Digit Al on a whistle stop tour of Northern Ireland.

Analogue television will close on 24 October 2012 and be replaced by a stronger Freeview signal that will reach virtually all Northern Ireland households, including half-a-million viewers who cannot receive it now.

Viewers who are still watching analogue TV – an estimated 100,000 households in Northern Ireland – need to switch to either Freeview, cable or satellite in the coming year, or face a blank screen at switchover. Northern Ireland will be one of the biggest winners from the UK switchover process, with Freeview coverage boosted from 66% to 98% of households.

Digital UK and the Switchover Help Scheme are preparing to launch a public information campaign to ensure viewers are ready for the change.

The campaign, due to kick off in the spring, will include roadshows, advertising and an information leaflet sent to every home.

The Help Scheme will write to eligible older and disabled people offering support in making the switch, including equipment, installation if needed and aftercare.

On 10 October 2012, two weeks before switchover completes, analogue BBC Two will be turned off as a final reminder to viewers who have yet to switch.

Denis Wolinski, Digital UK’s National Manager in Northern Ireland, said: “It’s an exciting time for viewers in Cookstown.

“Switchover paves the way for the end of analogue TV and the dawn of a fully digital age in which everyone can enjoy more channels, more choice and better pictures. Digital UK will ensure people in Northern Ireland know what to do, and that advice and practical support are available to those who need it.”

Analogue signals will also be turned off in the Republic of Ireland on 24 October 2012, the Government of Ireland announced last month, in order to make the transition to digital as straightforward as possible for TV viewers and the broadcasters.