Prior to the collapse of ITV Digital in May, no fewer than four in every ten UK households had switched to digital television. This compares year-on-year with 30% of homes – an overall increase of one third.

The data was released at this week’s Radio Academy Festival in Cambridge, addressing which Kim Howells, undersecretary of state for culture, media and sport, unveiled the results of a MORI survey.

According to the study (the fieldwork for which which pre-dates the collapse of ITV Digital), the main attraction of digital TV is the widened choice of programming. Improved picture and sound quality are also perceived as a key advantages, 71% of respondents being aware of dTV and its superiority over analogue.

The research was carried out to “gain a better understanding of people's perceptions of digital TV, their awareness of the issues and an insight into [their] future intentions,” said Howells. “It is very clear that more people are aware of the benefits of digital TV and are making the switch themselves.”

“This is very encouraging,” he continued. “But what is apparent is that there is more work to be done to demystify digital television’s benefits to those unsure about making the move.”

Currently these Doubting Thomases are in the majority, with only 42% planning to go digital over the next six to ten years. The government’s target date for discontinuing analogue TV signals is 2010, although it has promised there will be no mass switch-off until at least 90% of the nation is digital-enabled.

There is little doubt that the reallocation of ITV Digital’s licenses to the BBC / BSkyB / Crown Communications consortium, announced Thursday [WAMN: 04-Jul-02], will prove a major shot in the arm for the adoption of the technology.

Data sourced from: BBC Online Business News (UK); additional content by WARC staff