Staff urged to spread switchover message

Digital mascot Liam McKay is hoping to recruit support from BBC colleagues in the capital

As the London switchover deadline approaches, BBC staff are being asked to take a lead in getting the message out to elderly and disabled people about switching their tv sets to digital.

April 18 is the date of the UK's biggest single switch from analogue, following a partial switchover in the London area on April 4.

With less than two months left to alert eligible viewers - who may be disabled, over 75, registered blind or partially sighted, or lived in a care home for six months or more - the BBC Switchover Help Scheme team is mounting one last publicity push with a week of Helping Hand events.

Liam McKay, help scheme manager for the London tv region, is hoping to recruit support from the general public, but especially from BBC colleagues in the capital, who will be invited to sign a pledge to make sure eligible friends, neighbours and relatives get the assistance on offer.

The deal, provided through the White City-based Help Scheme team and delivered by approved Carillion installers, includes simple equipment (usually a Freeview set-top box), an easy-to-use remote control and 12-month aftercare service.

It costs £40 to convert one tv set to digital, or is free to eligible people who are also on income-related benefits.

Perfect ambassadors

To drive the message home, switchover robot 'Digit Al' will be handing out Helping Hand information and pledge forms to staff at Television Centre and White City on Tuesday.

Even though all eligible people have been contacted by post, not everyone responds to mail-outs and some may not be confident enough to take up the help, McKay says.

People who work for the BBC are well placed in their families and communities to be the perfect ambassadors, he believes.

'Many people will find it simple to switch and lots of people already have - we reached our millionth customer just before Christmas. But for those who need a little extra help, we want them to know that they will get the additional support they need from the Switchover Help Scheme and Digital UK.'

After the London switchover, Meridian, Tyne Tees and Northern Ireland will be the final tv regions to shut down analogue.

For more information, call 0800 40 85 900 or visit helpscheme.co.uk. For general information and guidance on switchover, call Digital UK on 08456 50 50 50 or visit www.digitaluk.co.uk.

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