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Warning over French TV interference in digital switch


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MEP RICHARD ASHWORTH: "Many people rely on their televisions, particularly during the winter, to keep them entertained so it is important we get this right"
MEP RICHARD ASHWORTH: "Many people rely on their televisions, particularly during the winter, to keep them entertained so it is important we get this right"

TELEVISION viewers in Kent and the south east could end up having to watch French soaps and reality shows rather than Eastenders and the X-Factor, a report by the National Audit Office has suggested.

The NAO says that because France is switching over to digital TV one year before Kent and the south east is due to, viewers who have not gone digital could find their analogue TVs suffering cross-channel interference.

Now a Kent Euro MP is urging the European Commission to intervene to persuade France to re-arrange the timetable for its digital switchover to tie in with the UK's.

Conservative MEP Richard Ashworth said: "Any interference with our television sets from across the Channel would be totally unacceptable, even if it is only for a few months.

"Many people rely on their televisions, particularly during the winter, to keep them entertained so it is important we get this right."

The NAO report warned: "Digital switchover in France, which is due to be completed in November 2011, could create interference in the UK to analogue and low-power digital television in southern England.

"This could be avoided if switchover in the affected areas was brought forward to 2011."

The report raised the prospect of viewers being unable to watch coverage of the London Olympics because of the powerful transmitters across the Channel.

Mr Ashworth said he wanted the European Commission to press France to reconsider its timetable. The UK switchover is already underway but the south east will be one of the last to complete in 2012.

However, Kent Labour MP Derek Wyatt said that by 2012, he expected most people to have switched to digital.

"I understand that 80 per cent of people in Kent are on digital so by the time we get to 2012, I anticipate there will probably be very few people who might be affected."

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