Analogue TV and you

The end of the analogue television is nigh and there are some facts and issues to keep in mind, writes Kya deLongchamps

The Saorview service can transmit High Definition programming. Keep this in mind if you’re replacing your set.

The analogue system will be replaced by Digital Terrestrial Television on Oct 24. Only those still using aerials mounted on the roof to receive their television signal will be affected by this change, as it is a completely separate system to the commercial cable services offered by Sky and other firms.

On Oct 24, the analogue system that has delivered Irish television for time immemorial will finally be switched off and will be replaced entirely by the already operating digital signal of Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT). This highly important moment in Irish broadcasting is termed the Digital Switchover of DSO. For many of us already using commercial cable and Sky’s satellite services, this moment will register as excited white noise on the RTÉ news. However, if you are one of the 250,000 households still receiving an analogue television signal through an aerial mounted on the roof, it’s time to upgrade your service.

There are two choices to join the digital age, either you can take up a contract with the existing digital services or you can vouch for Saorview (free view), RTÉ’s brand of digital broadcast delivering the Irish channels, RTÉ ONE, RTÉ TWO, RTÉ Junior, RTÉ ONE+1, RTÉ News Now, 3e, TG4, and TV3 to about 98% of the country. Saorview is non-subscription and the programming is free, (you just pay your TV license as usual) and can be picked up by your existing UHF aerial. If you cannot receive Saorview, an infill service called Saorsat will be available.

The service may be free, but the set up is not. To start enjoying Saorview you will need to purchase either a set top box to run between the aerial and the television ( around €50), or a new digital television (IDTV) that’s Saorview ready with the new receiver integrated in the set itself. The set top box and IDTVs are available from most electrical retailers in Ireland, and start from around €150. There’s a small grey and red bird over the words ‘Saorview Approved’ on these televisions.

Once you have your set top box or IDTV linked to the aerial by cable, you then tune in your Saorview service using the manual that comes with your new equipment. Your aerial may need adjusting, but if you are currently picking up TV3, it’s probably fine. If you have more than one television you will need a set top box for each. If you choose a set top box with features such as pause and rewind expect to pay from €80-€100.

The Saorview service is capable of transmitting High Definition (HD) programming. Keep this in mind if you’re replacing the set entirely.

Taking into account the potential for confusion and in some cases hardship involved in tailoring a TV to dovetail with the new service, a network of trained individuals are coordinating a public awareness campaign to smooth the transition to DSO. Termed the Digital Outreach Champions, you can find their plain but informative website at www.goingdigital.ie. Saorview is not a subscription and is not sold door to door by Saorview, RTÉ or anyone else. Similarly, there is no ‘special’ aerial needed. Ensure you, your elderly or vulnerable family, friends and neighbours are not targeted by individuals ‘selling’ the service or equipment, by spreading the word.

* Further guidance on the Digital Switchover is available at http://www.goingdigital.ie/, through LoCall 1890 940 980 (English language) and 1890 940 970 (Irish language).

nInformation booklets are also available in post offices and Citizen Information Centres throughout the country and an updated booklet will be sent to all households later in the summer. The Saorview information leaflet can be found at www.soarview.ie.

* If you think you’ve been deceived or misled in relation to the purchase of digital TV receiving equipment, for example a TV, set-top box, aerial or satellite dish or the installation of any of this equipment, contact the National Consumer Agency on 1890 432432 or 01-402 5555. The National Consumer Agency has prepared an independent information guide on digital television which you can find at www.nca.ie.

Other than Saorview...

If you want more than what’s on offer from Saorview, or wish to combine it with more programming, there are a number of satellite services, cable and broadband TV providers to choose from. You will, in most cases, need a set top box and cabling to get connected, and in the case of satellite, a dish for the roof set up in the right direction. Some providers offer the equipment free, but look for set up charges, discounts for direct debit, and what your monthly costs will be once the often enticing join up offers have trailed off. If you want high definition TV (HD) you will need a HD ready television and HD set top box, generally at a higher rate of subscription.

* AerTV: Provided by a broadband signal, you will need speeds of at least 1Mb to enjoy the service. HD being set up this year. The basic service is free. Nationwide. www.aertv.ie. Contact (do this online): support@aertv.ie.

* Sky:. Available to 99% of households. Generous 65 TV channel Sky + packages start at €25 and include dozens of radio channels too, but climb to a peak of €76 for inclusion of all movie channels and sports. Installation is around €30 by a local installer and a Sky + set top box is free to new customers (not HD). www.skyireland.ie. Tel: 0818-719852.

* UPC: This operates as a MMDS cable service to rural areas and standard cables in most urban areas. 87-149 channels depending on your choice from three digital packages. With Digital+, you can pause and rewind programming. 13 HD channels. Monthly fee from €25.40 includes a set top box charge. Installation and activation €50, cabling €40. Broadband, phone bundles available. www.upc.ie. Tel: 1890-940070.


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