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Update UK digital confusion remains - 28-June-2008, 11:50

UK digital confusion remains

On the one hand it might be said that with 85% of all UK homes already owning some sort of digital TV receiver to their main set there is no confusion at all. But a UK all-party governmental report yesterday was highly critical of the various government ministries, saying there was waste and a risk that when analogue TV is finally switched off there will still be millions of TVs unable to pick up the new digital signals.

The UK is committed to switching off analogue TV in the final Britishregion by 2012. Edward Leigh, chair of the parliamentary committee,said that half of all new TV sets sold in the first seven months oflast year were analogue, and needed some sort of converter box in orderto receive digital TV. "Many viewers do not seem fully to understandthe implications of the analogue switch-off and are still buyinganalogue televisions, unaware that they have built-in obsolescence. Theevidence is that the 'digital tick' label is a mystery to many retailstaff, let alone the people to whom they sell TVs."

He criticised the government for permitting analogue TVs still to besold when they would be potentially obsolete in less than four years.The report also questioned whether the 200m being spent on educatingthe public about switch-over was being spent well.

GfK data shows that while the proportion of analogue TVs sold hasfallen over the past year (in favour of all-digital sets), April 2008sfigures show 530,000 sets sold in total of which 105,400 were stillanalogue-only.
The (minority) Liberal Democrat culture spokesman, Don Foster, said:"With digital switchover already under way it's staggering that thegovernment has failed to put in place checks and balances to ensure thepublic are getting value for money. Considering this process has beenplagued with bureaucracy since its conception, the lack of adequatesystems of accountability is an enormous oversight."
The report states that 4m UK homes are still wholly dependent onanalogue TV, while millions of homeowners between them own 26m analogueTVs frequently in bedrooms or kitchens that have no digital converterbox. Digital UK, the organisation charged with running the switchoveron behalf of the government, said research showed that while somecustomers buying analogue TVs are simply confused, 90% knew they wouldeventually need to buy a set-top box to receive a digital signal.
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