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Are you ready for digital switchover?

Billboard adveritising the digital switchover in Station Road, Strood
Billboard adveritising the digital switchover in Station Road, Strood

It's Wednesday night, you settle down to watch Corrie or the football, switch on and the screen is blank.

Not a nice thought is it? But this is the prospect for some Medway households as we enter the last day of the analogue signal.

Thousands go over to digital on Wednesday and the latest research shows some homes may still not be ready.

Unprepared viewers will face blank screens when the digital switchover for north and mid Kent begins on Wednesday.

Some homes in Medway, in the Rochester and Borstal area, switched in April when the Crystal Palace transmitter was turned off. The rest will follow this week, when analogue channels will be switched off permanently at the Blue Bell Hill transmitter, and will be replaced by Freeview digital TV.

The UK’s digital switchover programme started in 2008 and Medway is one of the last areas to switch.

The switchover will take place in two stages with analogue viewers losing BBC 2 this Wednesday if they do not have a digital box.

The remaining analogue channels – BBC1, ITV1, Channel 4 and Channel 5 – will be turned off in the early hours of June 27.

The latest research by the Digital UK switchover tracker found that one in 10 households was not yet ready for the digital change.

If you have not already gone digital, there’s no need to throw out your TV and buy a new one.

Virtually any TV, even old black and white ones, can be converted with a digital box, which cost from about £20.

Ian Pellett, sales manager at TV World in Chatham, said: "I don’t think people are prepared and they need to make sure they are before they lose their channels.

"I think we will have a rush on after the switchover takes place with people who haven’t switched to digital TV."

There are three main options for going digital: convert your existing TV with a digital set-top box; get a service like satellite or cable TV installed; or get a new TV with digital built in.

A switchover help scheme has been set up to support elderly and disabled viewers who may be eligible for extra help when preparing for the digital switchover.

Mr Pellet said: "We have been doing a lot of retuning for older people in the area who have struggled with the switchover.

"It’s been a busy time and we have laid on extra staff."

To find out more, call the digital TV switch-over advice line on 08456 50 50 50 or visit digitaluk.co.uk

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