UK retailers stop selling analogue TVs

By Andrew Laughlin,

Major electronics retailers have today officially stopped selling analogue-only television sets in Britain as the digital switchover gathers pace.

According to switchover body Digital UK, British retailers have adapted their sales strategy in preparation for the switch from analogue to digital terrestrial television (DTT).

At a press briefing today, the switchover body said that retailers have been running down their stocks of analogue TVs in recent months, and last month there were no analogue sets sold in the UK for the first time.

Digital UK said that 5m homes have already made the transition to DTT, with 20m more due to follow by the end of the digital switchover in 2012.

The switchover process has already been completed in the Border region, the West Country, Wales and England's North West. It is now under way in Scotland.

BARB figures also reveal that around 24m out of 27m UK television homes already receive a digital TV service, either via Freeview (DTT), Sky and Freesat (satellite), or Virgin Media's cable TV service.

Separate research conducted by Digital UK claims that preparation for the digital switchover has helped increase levels of confidence in older people about technology.

In areas where analogue TV signals have been switched off, 31% of over-65s claimed to feel more tech-savvy as a result of moving to digital TV, and 64% said that they would now be happy to try other electronic gadgets.

The research also said that 90% of respondents felt that digital TV was as good if not better than analogue and one in three wished that they had made the switch sooner.

"It's still early days for [the] TV switchover but there is clear evidence that the benefits of digital TV are welcomed by the vast majority of those who have upgraded, most of whom have found it a straightforward process," said Digital UK chief executive David Scott.

"It's also pleasing to see evidence that switchover leaves a positive legacy with significant numbers of viewers gaining the confidence to try other technologies.

Michelle Mitchell, charity director at Age UK, added: "TV is a really important part of many older people's lives, and its clear that for many, updating to digital has brought not only more choice, but also increased confidence when it comes to dealing with technology.

"The findings of this research confirm our view that with some encouragement, support and experience of the benefits of being online, more of the 6.4 million people over the age of 65 who have never used the internet will choose to come online.

"It is therefore vital that training and ongoing support is in place to ensure that those people who are interested in getting online can receive help along the way."

On June 10, Ofcom announced that Freeview HD had reached its target of 50% UK coverage in time for the start of the World Cup.