Market Insight

UK and Ireland to switch off analogue TV in October 2012

October 13, 2011

Tim Westcott Tim Westcott Director – Research and Analysis, Programming, IHS Markit
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Analogue television transmissions will be switched off in the UK and the Republic of Ireland on 24 October 2012.

Northern Ireland will be the last area of the UK to complete the switchover to digital terrestrial television, with three transmitter groups covering the province starting the process on 10 October 2012. Households will receive 14 channels as standard, including the BBC's eight channels, UTV and ITV2, three from Channel 4, and Channel Five. Irish-language channel TG4 will also be available to most of Northern Ireland.

Analogue switchover has been a long drawn-out process in the UK, but has gathered pace as the deadline for switch-off approaches. Other areas of the country still to switch over are East Anglia (November 2011), London (April 2012), south-east England (June 2012) and the north east (September 2012) .

The Irish Republic's transition will be considerably quicker, given that Saorview, public broadcaster RTE's free DTT service, made its debut only in May this year, yet transmissions will end the same day as the UK. It is estimated that only 250,000 households in the Republic still receive TV via analogue terrestrial means.

The UK was the first country in Europe to launch digital terrestrial services, with the pay TV platform ONdigital, backed by ITV companies Granada and Carlton, making its debut in November 1998. It will therefore have taken the UK almost 14 years from start to finish to make a full transition to digital. Freeview, the consortium of broadcasters formed in 2002, proved considerably more successful and provided a model of how to whet consumer appetite for digital TV.

IHS Screen Digest forecasts that 40.1 per cent of UK television households will have free digital terrestrial TV on their primary TV set at the end of 2012, compared to 34 per cent at the end of this year. In Ireland, the total will be 3.6 per cent at the end of 2012, up from 2.4 per cent at the end of 2011.

 

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