ULSTER Unionist MLA Sandra Overend has urged the public to prepare for the switch over to Digital TV which is due to take place in October of this year.
Mrs Overend, who represents Mid-Ulster, said: “I recently attended a briefing at Stormont from Digital UK to explain how the switchover to Digital TV would operate in Northern Ireland, the “Switchover Help Scheme.
“The analogue television signal is being switched off across the United Kingdom. In Northern Ireland the BBC 2 signal will be switched off on the 10th October this year and on the 24th October all other channels will disappear.
People who currently only receive the five terrestrial channels – BBC One, BBC 2, UTV, Channel 4 and Channel 5 – need to convert their TV to digital or they will be unable to view any channel. Those who already have freeview, BT Vision or Top Up TV will need to retune at each stage of the switchover, whilst those who have Sky TV, Freesat from Sky, Freesat or Virgin Media do not need to take any action.
“Letters will be issued automatically by the Department of Health in April of this year outlining the help that will be available under the Switchover Help Scheme and I would encourage all those who are eligible to avail of it.
The Switchover Help Scheme exists to help eligible older and disabled people to switch one of their tv sets to digital. A person is eligible if he or she is either – aged over 75 or over; has lived in a care home for 6 months or more; gets or could get DLA, Attendance Allowance, Constant Attendance Allowance or mobility supplement, or is registered blind or partially sighted.
The standard offer is free if a person is eligible and received any of the following. Pension credit, income support, income based Jobseekers Allowance or the new employment and support allowance.
“Finally, I am aware that in some areas there are currently issues with regard to the quality of signal being received in certain areas by freeview customers. This is a particular issue in Moneymore in my own Mid-Ulster Constituency. I have been reassured that once the analogue signal is switched off the digital signal will be boosted.”