Digital Switchover and TG4/RTÉ coverage improvements

In a just under two month’s time, analogue television broadcasting will have gone for good in the UK and Ireland. During September the English Tyne Tees region will switchover to digital, leaving a coordinated transition in Ireland during October.

In short:

  • Analogue transmission of BBC Two will cease on 10 October and the frequency will be used to broadcast the BBC’s Freeview multiplex (bundle) of channels. Freeview set top boxes/TVs will need to be retuned.
  • Analogue transmissions of BBC One, UTV, Channel 4 and Five will cease broadcasting – as well as analogue transmissions of RTÉ One, RTÉ Two, TV3, TG4 etc – on 24 October, leaving digital Freeview and Saorview the only way to receive TV through rooftop aerials. Freeview equipment will require a retune again.
  • If your aerial is pointed at one of the three main transmitters, expect to get 40 TV channels plus radio. If you rely on a relay transmitter, you’ll receive 16 standard definition channels (BBC One, BBC Two, UTV, Channel 4, Five, BBC Three, BBC Four, BBC Parliament, BBC News, CBBC, CBeebies, itv2, UTV+1, E4 and More4) plus four HD (BBC One HD, BBC HD, UTV HD and 4 HD) plus radio. The Digital UK website can predict your coverage.
  • Homes relying solely on satellite or cable don’t need to do anything, except check that any older neighbours or family are covered.

There’s lots more detail in a recent post on Alan in Belfast.

However, Slugger readers in the north may be interested to realise that the possibilities for receiving RTÉ and TG4 will expand.

If you’re near the border, a ‘modern’ MPEG4-capable Freeview set top box (and definitely all Freeview HD boxes) will be able to receive the Saorview channels from southern transmitters. (RTÉ One, RTÉ Two HD, TV3, TG4, 3e, RTÉ News Now, RTÉjr and RTÉ One +1.) The channel numbers will be high, and subtitles/red button services may not work. Alternatively a Saorview-branded set top box will pick up both the Saorview and the Freeview transmissions, putting the UK channels up high and subtitles/red button services may not be fully functional.

Further away from the border you’ll be able to receive TG4, RTÉ One and RTÉ Two via the ‘mini-mux’ being broadcast from the Freeview transmitters on Black Mountain, Carnmoney Hill and Brougher Mountain. Note that TV3 isn’t included. You’ll need a Freeview HD-capable set top box or TV set to receive them. Due to rights restrictions, some sporting programmes and films may be unavailable. But it should dramatically extend the availability (and quality) of transmission of the three channels.

If you missed the household leaflet drop, then Digital UK’s website has copies in English, Irish, Ulster Scots (well worth a read tae get yer heed arund tae the deegital cheenge-ower) as well as a shorter booklet translated into Lithuanian, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Simplified Chinese and Slovak. The Digital UK website and 08456 50 50 50 helpline can help provide instructions for retuning instruction-less Freeview boxes as well as coverage information.

The Switchover Help Scheme offers discounted boxes to anyone who is aged over 75; or registered blind/partially sighted; or living in a care home for six months or more; or eligible for DLA, Attendance/Constant Attendance Allowance or Mobility supplement. In some cases it’ll be free. Call free on 0800 40 85 900. If the installer finds that Freeview signal will not be good, an alternative such as Freesat will be offered.

Here endeth the public information announcement!

Alan Meban. Normally to be found blogging over at Alan in Belfast where you’ll find an irregular set of postings, weaving an intricate pattern around a diverse set of subjects. Comment on cinema, books, technology and the occasional rant about life. On Slugger, the posts will mainly be about political events and processes. Tweets as @alaninbelfast.