A clearer picture is emerging for the UK switch to digital-only TV broadcasting.

The Government originally hoped to switch off the analogue signal by 2010, but phased-in changes could now begin as early as 2007.

However, industry regulator Ofcom says the final cut-off for commercial terrestrial channels, ITV, Channel 4 and Five, will be put back by two years to the end of 2012 [WAMN: 26-Jul-04], at which time the broadcasters will be expected to provide digital coverage "that is at least substantially the same" as existing analogue coverage.

Currently around half of UK homes have digital TV through cable, satellite or the BBC's terrestrial free-to-air service Freeview.

Blanket digital coverage will free up broadcast frequencies, give a clearer signal and ultimately provide for more channels. Up to 90 million TV sets could be affected.

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