Survey suggests switchover confusion

A survey for price comparison site uSwitch.com suggests that while the proportion of UK households watching digital TV on a main set is approaching 80%, fewer than one in five (17%) correctly knows when their region will go digital-only under the Government's 2007-2012 digital switchover timetable.

In November, Digital UK—the public service broadcaster and digital multiplex operator-funded body charged with coordinating the region-by-region switchover—said awareness of switchover had risen to 70% in the third quarter of 2006. At the same time, 79% of UK adults said they were "comfortable" with switchover in the Digital UK and Ofcom tracker survey.

However, uSwitch's survey—conducted by pollster YouGov last week with a sample of 2,345 UK adults—reveals that 83% (or 37.8m people) are not fully prepared since they did not know when switchover would take place in their region. The region registering the highest correct awareness (61%) was Border, the first full region to switch next year after the Cumbrian town of Whitehaven becomes the UK's first town to go digital-only this October. Grampian and Scottish TV regions recorded 40% and 27% correct awareness levels while only 3% of adults in Anglia could correctly state when switchover would take place there.

The survey's other key findings are:

The survey suggests older households have a better grasp of digital technology, with 17% of over 55s aware of all the ways to switch to digital, compared to just 11% of the 18-24 year olds.

Steve Weller, head of communication services at uSwitch, said: "Although the switch to digital will be good news for viewers, it is worrying to see that consumers are still baffled as to how and when to switch. The problems and confusion clearly arise in the fact that consumers do not know much about when the switchover will happen, what measures they need to take and how much this will cost them."

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