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Get ready for the digital switchover!

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The Western Isles will be switching over to digital television from July 2010.  What will this mean for local residents?

You won’t need to buy a new TV

If you have a TV that is compatible with the digital signal (look out for the digital tick logo) then this will automatically pick up the Freeview channels.  If you have an older, analogue television you will need to buy a Freeview digibox to convert your TV to pick up the digital signal.  You will need a box for each television that needs converting.

You probably won’t need a new aerial

90% of homes will be able to receive digital TV through their existing aerials, so the chances are that you won’t need to replace your aerial. If you get a good picture now, you should be fine.  To check this, go to Teletext page 284 which will show you a page of white dots.  If you have odd white dots missing (not whole lines), you might need a new aerial.

You might need new recording equipment

After the switchover, old recording equipment will only be able to record the channel you are watching.  This is fine if you are out for the evening, but if you want to record one channel whilst watching another you will need to get a digital television recorded with two or more tuners, which will connect your TV and your recording equipment. Some examples are Sky+ or Freeview Playback.

What will it cost?

You can get a Freeview box for about £20. Alternatively you can get a non-subscription satellite service for a one-off payment of approximately £150, or subscribe to a digital satellite service such as Sky for a monthly fee of around £8-£45 depending on the package.  Digital television recorders cost about £100 for the cheaper models.

Can I get any help?

There is a help scheme set up which will provide equipment and support.  To qualify for the scheme you will need to qualify on one or more of the following grounds:

  • Aged 75 or over
  • Receiving certain disability benefits, or
  • Registered blind or partially sighted


The help scheme will:

  • Provide you with easy to use equipment suitable for your needs.
  • Install the equipment for you.
  • Fit a new dish or aerial if it’s needed.
  • Give you a demonstration on how to work it.
  • Provide a helpline that you can call if you get stuck.


If you are eligible for help you will need to pay £40 towards this service unless you get pension credit, income support or income-based jobseeker allowance in which case it will be free.

Visit for more information.

Watch out for rogues

Be aware that rogue traders may try to use the digital switchover to make a fast buck. If someone knocks on your door and tells you that you need a new aerial and that they can replace it cheaply say no thank you and ask them to leave.

If they don’t leave as soon as you ask them to, this is a criminal offence and you can report them to CnES Trading Standards or to the Northern Constabulary

Where can I find more information?

Visit the official Digital UK switchover website at or call 08456 505050.  The site provides a postcode checker so that you can when your area will switch to digital and watch your options are.

Digital UK’s role is to communicate with public about digital switchover to ensure that everyone knows what is happening, what they need to do and when.

Digital UK will be sending information direct to each home to prepare people. All households will receive a series of direct mailings about the regional switchover process in the twelve months before it happens.