Goodbye analogue television

Alix Pryde Alix Pryde made history yesterday with analogue switchoff

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The world looks the same as it did yesterday, but last night was the end of the road for analogue television in this country.

Alix Pryde, the BBC's director of distribution, made history when she switched off the analogue signal in County Antrim, officially marking the end of the 80-year-old transmission technology.

This excerpt from her blog explains what it was like to be witness to the end of an era.

In the dark of the night of 23 to 24 October 2012, I flicked a switch at the Divis transmitting station in County Antrim, and the BBC's last remaining analogue terrestrial TV signal was switched off. The largest broadcast engineering project in history - digital switchover - is now complete.

The completion of digital switchover is important because it means that every television home in the country can now "access the UK Public Services that are intended for them" as required by the BBC Agreement.

It is also a significant moment in the history of UK television. When 30 million people watched Den hand divorce papers to Angie on Christmas Day; when the country stayed up late to see the Apollo 11 moon landing; when the Sex Pistols swore at Bill Grundy - we were watching on analogue terrestrial TV.

You don't survive for more than 80 years without being adaptable, and analogue terrestrial TV certainly went through a lot of changes in its lifetime.

A bright future

What was perhaps most remarkable about analogue TV was the amount of innovation that occurred over the years. From the adoption of the 625-line system and the arrival of colour TV in the 1960s, to the genesis of teletext in the 1970s (including the much-loved BBC service Ceefax, which also came to an end with digital switchover), to the arrival of NICAM stereo broadcasts in the 1980s, broadcast engineers demonstrated their genius in pushing the technology forward, ensuring at each stage that older sets would not be adversely affected.

But although its analogue version is now gone, terrestrial TV continues to go from strength to strength.

Freeview celebrates its tenth anniversary on 30 October 2012. It has enjoyed a hugely successful decade, with c.20 million homes (that's four in five) now watching TV via Freeview and over half of them using Freeview as their sole TV platform. Like its analogue older sister, Freeview has kept pace with technical developments over the years: we have seen the launch of Freeview+ and Freeview HD, and there are projects in development to make sure Freeview remains competitive in the years to come.

Meanwhile, YouView has now launched, seamlessly bringing together digital terrestrial TV and internet-delivered TV.

So while the analogue era has ended, the future of terrestrial broadcasting looks bright.

Read Pryde's full blog about analogue switchoff here.

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