Skip to main content

Digital Broadcasting

Volume 490: debated on Monday 30 March 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what steps his Department is taking to help those on low incomes update television sets in preparation for the digital switchover. (267025)

The Government and the BBC have set up a Digital Switchover Help Scheme which targets help for those groups likely to have the greatest need. Research has indicated that cost is not the main barrier to take-up of digital TV and that older pensioners and disabled people may have the most difficulty switching.

The Help Scheme covers households where one person is aged 75 or over, or has a severe disability, or is registered blind or partially sighted and anyone who is normally resident in a care home. Help is free within these groups for those on pension credit, income support or income-based jobseeker’s allowance.

The scheme provides easy-to-use equipment that suits a person’s needs. It also provides help with installing the equipment, including where necessary a new dish or aerial, and an easy-to-understand demonstration of how everything works. The scheme also ensures that there will be someone that people can call for help while they are getting used to digital television.

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what steps his Department is taking to inform the public about the digital switchover. (267034)

Digital UK is responsible for informing the public about switchover and for providing general information about the Switchover Help Scheme. Key elements of Digital UK’s communications campaign include information leaflets sent to every home, advertising, roadshows and on-screen captions broadcast to analogue homes during the six months before a switchover.

The Help Scheme is run by the BBC, under an agreement with the Government, to help older and disabled people make the change to digital TV. Every eligible person will be offered practical help to convert one of their TV sets to digital in the run-up to switchover in each region.

Digital UK is also working with local charities to provide information, advice and support to those who are not eligible for the Help Scheme but may need some extra help in managing the switchover process. Digital UK has contracted with Digital Outreach Ltd. to deliver this service in the first four TV regions to switch—Border, West Country, Wales and Granada.

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what recent estimate he has made of the number of households fully prepared for the digital switchover. (267035)

The Ofcom/Digital UK switchover tracker survey for the fourth quarter of 2008 estimated that 63 per cent. of all UK households had switched all of their televisions to digital.