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Help the elderly get turned on

It's six weeks to the digital switchover and not everyone will be prepared

Published on September 30th 2009.


Help the elderly get turned on

The build up to the digital switchover feels a bit like waiting for the Millennium bug again. After a huge anticipation and mass panic, very little actually happened and we moved into the new year as per usual.

“This is particularly important for those people whose TV is company for them. Imagine if they couldn't watch Coronation Street anymore.”

The switchover has received similar hype. But given that we're a nation of telly-addicts, there is far more at stake if we don't educate ourselves now. Consumer watchdog, Which? recently found that four in 10 UK television viewers were still completely ignorant about DSO, and half don’t realise each set in the home will need to be converted separately.

This is particularly relevant to the elderly and the disabled, some of whom see television as their main source of entertainment and are still coming to terms with the fact that we've got five channels now instead of four, never mind digital.

With this in mind, the Switchover Help Scheme has been launched with the help of Coronation Street actress Maggie Jones, who plays the acid-tongued Blanche Hunt.

She said: “Digital Switchover is going to happen on 4 November so everyone needs to be ready. This is particularly important for those people whose TV is company for them. Imagine if they couldn't watch Coronation Street anymore. We can all make sure that this doesn't happen, so I'm thrilled to be able to put Blanche's infamous talent for nagging to good use.”

Anyone over 75 or eligible for disability allowances is entitled to practical help from the Switchover Help Scheme. The problem is that many people in this particular category may need help and advice from family, friends and neighbours, so that they don't miss out on this scheme.

Ordinary TV (analogue terrestrial) currently offers just five channels, BBC1, BBC2, ITV1, Channel 4 and Channel Five, to most areas. The current terrestrial digital service (freeview) offers well over 30 channels and this could increase when the analogue service finishes.

The digital TV switchover is government policy and will mean that almost everyone will be able to receive digital TV through an aerial (Freeview). Digital TV also uses less broadcast space which means that after switchover, there will be more room for new services such as wireless broadband, local TV and High Definition Television (HDTV).

You don't have to purchase a new TV for the switchover, as your current set can be converted with the addition of a digi-box. The over 75s will be supplied with one digi-box free as part of the scheme.

The scheme costs £40 but is free for people who are eligible and also those who get pension credit, income support, income-based jobseekers allowance or employment and support allowance.

The scheme offers the following benefits:

  • help with installing equipment in your home
  • fitting a new dish or aerial, where possible, if it is needed to make the new equipment work
  • an easy-to-understand demonstration of how everything works
  • someone you can call for help while you're getting used to things.

Things to remember:

  • Any TV left unconverted will not work after switchover.
  • Video and DVD recorders will still play back and record but most won’t be able to record one channel while you watch another. If you enjoy recording, you should consider getting a digital TV recorder that will also convert your TV.
  • Your radio equipment will not be affected by switchover.

For more information, please visit www.helpscheme.co.uk

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