The Cumbrian town of Whitehaven will lead the UK's digital switchover on October 17. On that date the town and the surrounding area's 25,000 households will lose the analogue version of BBC Two, then four weeks later, analogue BBC One, ITV1 and Channel 4 will be switched off.
The same two-stage process will be followed across the UK under the Government's digital switchover timetable which will be completed in 2012.
Digital UK, the industry-funded body charged with coordinating switchover, said letters would now be sent to every home in Whitehaven explaining the targeted help scheme for those aged over 75 and with certain disabilities.
To raise awareness of the switchover Digital UK is sponsoring Channel 4's afternoon quiz show Countdown. Digital UK CEO Ford Ennals said: "Switchover has been years in the planning and with today's announcement it becomes a reality.
"Today for the first time we can provide details of exactly how the process will be carried out, not just in Whitehaven but across the UK."
Broadcasting minister Shaun Woodward added: "The countdown to a digital future has begun. In October, Whitehaven will start the process of digital switchover. Residents will be able to reap the benefits of a greater choice of TV channels and better quality pictures and sound. Arrangements are in place to ensure Whitehaven residents get the help and support they need. This will help to ensure the UK switch to digital is as smooth as possible."
Jamie Reed, MP for Copeland and chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Switchover, said: "Switchover will end the unfairness of many of my constituents not having access to digital television through an aerial. All eyes will be on Whitehaven and Digital UK must continue its good work and make sure it gets the switchover right."
Lovelace Consulting | 14.03.2007