Digital switchover timetable has used up contingency time

March 1, 2008

Digital switchover timetable has used up contingency time

The National Audit Office has reported that the digital switchover timetable is going well, despite delays caused by last year’s summer storms.

Work to put up new masts for digital was delayed by the exceptionally bad weather in 2007, which used up set-aside contingency time. There is now no leeway in the timetable for turning off analogue in the Granada area in late 2009.

Officials are working on a back up plan that could involve a reserve transmitter.

The NAO report states that: "It is too early to say whether the departments will secure their objectives for digital switchover, but they have so far made good progress. The programme has genuine momentum."

It goes on to say that there remains a residual risk that external events, for example a repeat of the adverse weather of 2007, could delay the conversion of some transmitters.

The report said two-thirds of the population now understand what they need to do to get ready for switchover. It also found takeup of the Digital UK's Digital Switchover Help Scheme was "significantly lower" than expected in Copeland, the site of the first analogue switch-off.

The NAO found that if the demand was the same across the country, the BBC and other switchover partners could have set aside £250m too much for the scheme.

According to Tim Burr, head of the NAO: "Progress so far is encouraging, but there is a long way to go. Almost one third of licence fee payers still do not understand switchover, up to 26m analogue television sets have yet to be replaced or converted and nearly 1,200 transmitter sites are to be upgraded."


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