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Digital Broadcasting: Copeland

Volume 461: debated on Friday 15 June 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what assistance her Department has provided to residents of rural areas in Copeland in advance of digital switchover in October. (142802)

According to the Digital UK/Ofcom Q1 2007 Tracker, awareness across the UK is higher in rural areas than in urban areas (88 per cent. in rural areas compared to 81 per cent. in urban areas). All households in the Copeland area will receive a doordrop in the next month as part of the ongoing communications campaign to drive up awareness in the final three months before switchover.

Digital UK run drop-in sessions in places throughout Copeland including the rural areas of Moor Row, Seascale, Parton and Eskdale.

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what assistance her Department has provided to tenants (a) of private landlords and (b) in social housing in preparation for digital switchover in Copeland in October. (142803)

Private tenants cannot be identified by name or address. To communicate with tenants and residents, Digital UK has distributed a specific leaflet to libraries and CAB in the area, and on its website. Digital UK ran an advertising campaign targeting tenants in the Whitehaven News, letting them know where to find the leaflet. Digital UK provided particular information to tenants and residents in the Switchover supplement in the Whitehaven News on March 15, which is also available for download on the Whitehaven News website. In addition, Digital UK has written to the main lettings agents in the area with a letter and a factsheet about switchover, with a request to copy to their lists of tenants and landlords.

For tenants in social housing, all providers in the area have been contacted twice, including close contact with Copeland Homes, and followed up by a phone call or visit, if they had no plans. In addition, all care homes in the area have been identified, written to and contact made.

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what assistance her Department has provided to (a) schools, (b) hospitals and (c) other public facilities in Copeland in preparation for digital switchover in October. (142804)

Digital UK have prepared a teaching pack for primary schools which 92 per cent. of schools in Copeland have agreed to use.

Digital UK and the relevant central Government Departments have also been proactively contacting local service providers, including West Cumberland hospital, to ensure they are aware of the need to prepare for switchover.

A number of other public facilities are used by Digital UK to convey communication material including local libraries, churches, the local newspaper Whitehaven News, social and community groups, West Cumbria Older People’s Forum, Copeland Disability Forum and the Women’s Institute.

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport how much revenue was raised by television licence fees in the area of Copeland in which digital switchover will take place in October in the latest period for which figures are available. (142840)

The information requested is not held centrally. The BBC has statutory responsibility for the administration of the television licensing system and TV Licensing carries out day to day administration under contract to the corporation. I have therefore asked the BBC's Head of Revenue Management to consider the question raised by the hon. Member and to write to him direct. Copies of the reply will be placed in the Libraries of both Houses.

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what steps her Department is taking to ensure that the elderly population of Copeland is (a) aware of the need to make their televisions digitally compatible, (b) assisted to undertake this exercise and (c) protected from unfair practices by digital television retailers and installers of related equipment; and if she will make a statement. (142757)

[holding answer 14 June 2007]: The Digital UK/Ofcom Tracker data for Q1 2007 shows that 97 per cent. of people in Copeland are aware of switchover. The indicative awareness figure for those aged 55 plus in Copeland is 98 per cent. compared to 92 per cent. of 16-34 year olds. In addition to working with major charities assisting elderly people such as Age Concern, Digital UK is communicating directly with elderly residents in the area.

All households in the area, including older people, have received the Border leaflet, a letter about the switchover, and will receive a leaflet three months out with detailed information on how to switch. Households will also receive a reminder one month prior to switchover. Captions are appearing on TV screens to remind people of the date of switchover.

Developed by the DTI and promoted by Digital UK, the ‘digital tick’ logo is used by all major electrical retailers and manufacturers to mark digital television equipment (TVs, set-top boxes and recorders). Retailers will be the first port of call for many consumers. Digital UK has developed a Switchover Training scheme for retail staff, which is being used by thousands of staff nationwide. Trained staff can be identified by badges carrying the ‘digital tick’ logo. All four retailers in the area have agreed to train all their staff in the next one-two months.

In order to contact those eligible for the Help scheme, all households and care homes were sent a Help scheme letter, leaflet and a form informing them about the Help scheme.

Digital UK recently held a seminar with senior representatives from Trading Standards, police, the Home Office, key charities and others in the consumer protection sector to give a thorough airing to consumer protection issues and to progress effective practices and protocols to counter sharp practice such as rogue trading, distraction burglary and scams. Further seminars are arranged for this summer and in the meantime a number of protection initiatives are under way.