Ad Drive On Ice as UK Awaits Analogue TV Switchoff Date

29 August 2005

The UK government's footdragging over the future of analogue TV could finally end in September when culture, media and sport secretary, Tessa Jowell, addresses the Royal Television Society's annual Cambridge Convention.

She is expected to use the event to announce the Blair administration's long-awaited timetable for digital switchover. Following hard on the heel of that announcement will be a major multimedia campaign to persuade the 38% of the Great British Public who have yet to switch, of the joys of dTV.

The campaign will hype the benefits of dTV - interactivity, improved picture quality and wider channel choice - to an audience that will become increasing difficult to persuade as it progressively diminishes.

Coordinated by SwitchCo, a pan-industry body charged with overseeing the dTV changeover, the campaign will run "on and off" throughout the switchover period, which is due to start in the ITV Borders region in 2008 and end in the Channel Islands four years later.

Says Barry Cox, Switchco chairman: "[Our] main objective is to make sure everyone knows when switchover is happening in their area and what they have to do to deal with it."

He dismisses as an "exaggeration" rumours that the campaign could cost £300 million ($542m; €440m). "Final budgets won't be agreed until after the renewal of the BBC charter where the bulk of the money will come from," Cox avers.

Analysts and other inspired guessers say the switch could cost up to £7 billion overall - including the aggregated costs to the public of digital converter boxes or new TV receivers.

A survey by the London Business School divined that 60% of the broadcast executives interviewed were uncertain about switchover plans - a fact that will surprise only the London Business School, given that Her Majesty's Government has yet to publicly commit to a schedule.

Two-fifths of the TV honchos questioned said not enough was being done to educate industry executives about the process.

Data sourced from; additional content by WARC staff