Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland completes UK digital TV switchover

The analogue TV signal in Northern Ireland has been switched off, completing the UK's transition to digital broadcasting.

It was the last UK region to switch off its signal, bringing an end to the 80-year-old transmission technology and heralding the dawn of the digital age.

It means anyone watching TV with an analogue signal lost all their channels and Ceefax at 23:30 BST on Tuesday.

A joint broadcast marking the event was shown on UTV and BBC One NI.


The hour-long special programme, The Magic Box, was hosted by Eamonn Holmes.

The show was billed as a nostalgic celebration of "the best of Northern Ireland television over the past 60 years".

The programme featured contributions and clips from many well known faces from UTV and BBC Northern Ireland, including Gloria Hunniford, Patrick Kielty, Jackie Fullerton, Gordon Burns, Julian Simmons, Rose Neill, Paul Clarke and Noel Thompson.

Speaking as he closed the simulcast programme, Mr Holmes thanked viewers for watching and said: "Here's to the next 60 years."

Image caption A live simulcast was broadcast on BBC One NI and UTV

Northern Ireland's most successful Olympian, Dame Mary Peters, was given the honour of switching off the UK's last active analogue transmitter at Divis Mountain in Belfast.

She described it as "a great privilege".

The digital switchover also spells the end for BBC Ceefax, the world's first teletext service, after nearly four decades.

Launched in the days before the internet and 24-hour rolling news, the aim of Ceefax was to give viewers access to the latest news, sports results and weather as soon as it came into the BBC's newsrooms.

On Tuesday evening, a series of graphics on Ceefax's front page will mark its 38 years on the BBC.

Switchover advice

Viewers who need information on how to update their TV equipment in order to access digital channels and digital text services should call Digital UK on 08456 50 50 50 for independent advice.

Separately, the BBC runs a Switchover Help Scheme to help older and disabled people with everything they need to switch one TV to digital.

For more information, call free on 0800 40 85 900 or visit the website.

Those already using digital TVs or set-top boxes will have to re-tune.

However, if you have Sky TV, Virgin Media, freesat or Freesat from Sky on all your TV sets, then you do not have to do anything as your service will not be affected by the change.

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