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Digital Broadcasting: Copeland

Volume 461: debated on Monday 18 June 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport whether her Department has collated data on the number of digital (a) televisions and (b) receivers sold in Copeland since the announcement in 2006 relating to digital switchover taking place there in October. (142844)

Digital UK is speaking to retailers on a monthly basis to assess how much kit they are selling and the feedback from this process is included in the Whitehaven monthly progress report.

According to the Q1 2007 Digital UK Tracker, 70 per cent. of primary sets in Copeland have already been converted. A further 27 per cent. of other sets have been converted. The proportion of the total number of sets converted is 49 per cent. We expect many people to wait until very near the time of switchover until they buy their equipment.

It should be noted that there is currently no availability of Freeview in Copeland and that the only method for going digital before the switchover is satellite. It is only by switching off the analogue signal that Freeview can be made available to homes in Copeland.

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what methodology was used to decide that Copeland would be the first area in the UK in which digital switchover would occur; and if she will make a statement. (142848)

Copeland was chosen as it offers an ideal environment in which to refine plans for the national switchover programme. The area is a clearly defined one with little broadcast overlap. Copeland has a good demographic mix, 16 per cent. 65+, 6.6 per cent. 75+, 21.4 per cent. registered disabled, living in a mix of private/rented housing/multiple dwelling units.

The area will benefit significantly as the Whitehaven, Gosforth and Eskdale Green transmitters do not provide digital terrestrial TV currently.