Definitions

Digital UK

Digital UK

Digital UK is the organisation that oversees the digital switchover of television in the United Kingdom.

Digital UK is one of four bodies which, working together, are expected to deliver the country's switchover programme. The others are Ofcom (the communications regulator) and the government Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS).

The company was set up as a not-for-profit body at the request of the government and Ofcom, but it is independent from both. Its shareholders are the UK public-service broadcasters (BBC, ITV, Channel 4, Five, S4C and Teletext) and transmission companies SDN and National Grid Wireless. More than half of Digital UK's budget is funded by the BBC, via the licence fee.

Digital UK was formed in September 2005 and is based in Percy Street in the West End of London. The Chief Executive is David Scott and the chair is Barry Cox.

Duties

Communication

Digital UK is responsible for communicating with the public about switchover, telling them when it will happen and what they need to do to prepare.

Digital switchover will affect almost every home in the United Kingdom. All of the country's television sets will have to be able to receive a digital signal when the analogue terrestrial signal is turned off, between 2008 and 2012.

In May 2006, Digital UK launched a seven-year, £200-million campaign to inform consumers about switchover. This will become the country's biggest ever public information programme, with two mailings to every household, and an ongoing advertising campaign based on the robot character "Digit Al".

Digital UK also provides information to consumers through a website and a telephone helpline (0845 6 50 50 50). Viewers can look on page 284 of Ceefax or Teletext to see a testcard indicating whether their aerial may need replacing to receive a digital signal.

Transmitter work

One of the main reasons for switchover is to allow almost every home to be able to receive a digital signal through their normal aerial - digital terrestrial television, usually known in the UK as Freeview.

At present, around one quarter of the UK public cannot receive Freeview, because the digital signal is broadcast at low power so as not to interfere with the analogue signal. By switching the analogue signal off, it will be possible to increase Freeview coverage to 98.5% of homes.

This will be done by installing 9,417 transmitters on 1,073 masts across the country between 2008 and 2013. Digital UK is responsible for co-ordinating this work, which will be carried out region by region.

Freeview is only one way to receive digital television: the others are digital satellite (through Sky, or free-to-air systems), cable (through Virgin Media or WightCable) and over a telephone line (through Tiscali TV in London). Digital UK was established as a "platform neutral" body, meaning that it does not promote any of these services above another.

Suppliers

Digital UK also works with electrical manufacturers and retailers, who together will supply the equipment necessary for all the UK's television households to watch digital.

One of Digital UK's major responsibilities is to promote the digital 'tick' logo. This is a certification mark for the public, identifying television equipment in stores that will work before, during and after digital switchover.

See also

External links

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