Digital TV switchover starts today with BBC2

Jim McCartan
Jim McCartan

IF YOUR television is not showing BBC2 today, the chances are you have not prepared for the switch-over to the new digital signal, which began in the early hours of this morning.

From today in Northern Ireland the old analogue signal is being replaced with a digital signal which requires at the very least a small inexpensive digital receiver to be plugged into your television.

Nigel Tilson, Northern Ireland manager for the BBC switchover help scheme, said: “BBC2 is being turned off from today as a wake-up call to anyone who is not yet ready for the entire analogue signal being turned off. The switchover is happening in two phases.

“Phase one, today, sees BBC2 analogue switched off and the full suite of BBC channels available on digital Freeview through a boosted signal. Then from October 24 the remaining digital channels such as Channel 4, Channel 5 and UTV will also be made available on digital and the old analogue signal will be switched off entirely.”

Around 66 per cent of the population in Northern Ireland will get 40 free channels on digital Freeview, however those outside the range of main transmitters will get a minimum of 15, he said.

“Not everyone finds it easy getting used to new equipment, but once you take the time to explain to someone how a new remote control works and how to access the new TV channels, most people wonder why they were worried in the first place.”

Portadown resident Jim McCartan, a big golf fan, is one of those who has taken advantage of the BBC help scheme in order to keep his television signal uninterrupted.

The scheme is available until November 25 for anyone over 75 or fulfilling certain other requirements.

An approved installer visited Jim with everything he needed to make the switch to digital and demonstrated how to use his new equipment.

He said: “I was really impressed with the service from the help scheme. It was good from start to finish – first class. I’m really not sure I could have made this digital thing work myself. I still know my way around a bag of golf clubs, but don’t have a clue about digital equipment.

“People like me don’t need to worry about this though, as the help scheme engineers are great and show you what to do with the new equipment. It’s also a relief to find that once you’re shown what to do, it’s actually not that difficult at all.”

People are eligible for the BBC help scheme if they are aged 75 or over, have lived in a care home for six months or more, or are eligible for disability living allowance, attendance or constant attendance allowance, mobility supplement, or are registered blind or partially sighted.

Most people will be asked to pay £40 towards the help but it is free for people who are on certain income-related benefits.

For information on the BBC help scheme call 0800 4085 900 or see

If you are not eligible for the BBC help scheme but still need advice, call Digital UK on 08456 505050 or see