Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland digital switch catches some on hop

Digital Switchover
Image caption Analogue television is closing down in Northern Ireland

The manager of a digital switchover help scheme says the vast majority of Northern Ireland viewers should already be aware of what they need to do.

Analogue BBC Two was permanently switched off early on Wednesday and has confused some viewers.

Freeview digital channels, including BBC Two, are available for the first time to thousands of viewers served by local relay transmitters.

The full switchover from analogue to digital happens on 24 October.

However, on Wednesday morning BBC Radio Ulster received several texts and tweets from people left confused by the start of the switchover.

They included:

  • "I thought it was just BBC2 that disappeared this morning, we had No digital channels at all on any tv in our house!"
  • "News 24 has disappeared too. And BBC1 is now CBeebies."
  • "I have retuned freeview, digital channels missing, no BBC. Help?"
  • "Went through the retuning steps...nothing happened!"
  • "It is NOT just BBC2: BBC1 gone too."
  • "There are no analogue channels being received at my house near Rathfriland."

Nigel Tilson, manager of the Switchover Help Scheme for Northern Ireland, said: "We have lots of people on standby at our contacts centre to talk people through this.

"There has been an awful lot of advertising, there have been on-screen captions running for the last couple of months to tell people this is coming.

"So hopefully the message will have got out to the vast majority, but there will always be people who slip through the net."

On 24 October the remaining analogue channels will be switched off permanently.

The remaining digital channels will become available in all areas.

Northern Ireland transmitters are switching in two stages to give people the chance to check their equipment.

If you have a Freeview, BT Vision or Top Up TV service, you will need to re-tune your digital TV or box at each switchover stage.

Switchover roadshows and advice points will be located across Northern Ireland on 10 and 11 October and 24 and 25 October.

If you have Sky TV, Virgin Media or Freesat on all your TV sets, then you do not have to do anything.

If you have not converted and still have analogue TV, you will lose BBC Two at stage one and all of your remaining channels at stage two.

Russell Keene from Digital Switchover UK said: "If you don't retune you'll find a lot of your channels missing. All your BBC channels are missing. Retuning will bring those channels back.

"That's what we are there to give help with. You can give us a call, our advice line is ready. We open from six in the morning until 10 at night."

The switchover is happening so that Freeview services can be extended to people who cannot currently get them, including those who receive their signal from a relay transmitter.

It also allows new services, such as High Definition (HD) channels, to become more widely available.

Northern Ireland is the last part of the UK to make the switch from analogue.

Further information can be obtained from the Digital UK website

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