Granada TV region prepares for switchover

Tuesday, November 3 2009,

Over seven million viewers in the Granada TV region will make the transition from analogue to digital television tomorrow in the biggest overnight change in UK TV history.

Shortly after midnight on November 4, analogue BBC Two will be switched off at the Winter Hill transmitter and its 70 local transmitters covering households in five major North West cities, including Manchester and Liverpool.

On December 2, the remaining analogue channels - BBC One, ITV1, Channel 4 and Five - will be permanently switched off, with Freeview signals boosted in their place. Around 500,000 viewers will gain access to the Freeview platform in the process.

After it started a year ago in the Scottish borders, the digital switchover has since transferred TV services of over 4m viewers in the UK. However, that will increase dramatically with the switch of over 7.2 million viewers in the Granada TV region.

Research conducted by Digital UK has indicated that the North West is well prepared for switchover, with 99% of adults claiming to be fully aware of the change.

Following the switch, terrestrial TV services will be off air for some viewers in the region until the late afternoon. Freeview, BT Vision and Top Up TV users will then have to retune their equipment once the service is back on air.

Digital UK chief executive David Scott said: "Never before in this country has a change in television affected so many people in one night as the digital switchover in the North West.

"We believe the region is well prepared, but some people will need a bit of extra help - which we're determined to provide."

Also on December 2, the Winter Hill switch will herald the commencement of high definition broadcasts on digital terrestrial television for the first time ever.

The BBC will use a reconfigured version of what is presently known as multiplex B to launch Freeview HD, with upscaled versions of BBC One, ITV1 and Channel 4 the first channels to become available in the North West.

Last month, the Digital TV Group commenced testing for Freeview HD and Freeview+ HD receivers, with at least two set top boxes expected to reach the market before Christmas.