The UK government has decreed that the nation's switch from analogue to digital television shall be complete by 2012. Manufacturers, retailers and broadcasters alike are agog at the prospect, scenting megabucks.

There is however one snag. The British consumer.

Although Britons have taken to dTV like a duck to water, with nearly sixty percent of all TV households already receiving digital programmes [WAMN: 31-Mar-05], there is a sizable hard core of apathy and antipathy.

Many have declared an outright refusal to switch - which could seriously compromise government and industry plans for the money-spinning techfest. Enter SwitchCo, an industry-funded body responsible for managing the switchover.

Its concern is not only with logistics. Persuasion is the real name of its game and, with this uppermost in mind it has appointed high profile marketer Ford Ennals as chief executive.

Ennals' inter-job mobility has kept pace with his profile's altitude, having held senior marketing positions at Lloyds TSB, British Airways, Reebok and Mars. Currently he is managing director of the direct marketing division of Universal Music.

He will report to SwitchCo's new chairman, the former journalist, broadcaster and political lobbyist Barry Cox (who also finds time to serve as deputy chairman of Channel 4).

Cox delivered the customary panegyric to an incoming honcho: "Communicating switchover to the UK public needs the leadership of someone with a strong background in marketing and communications.

"Ford Ennals' experience in launching the new Lloyds TSB brand, and his overseeing of the successful merger and integration of the two banks, makes him ideal to head the organisation."

Ennals responded by acknowledging the enormity of his task: "Moving the whole country to digital will be a great challenge. My first task will be to start a dialogue with television viewers, consumer groups and other important stakeholders to get their views so we can begin to shape our communication plans."

Andy Townend, controller of distribution at the BBC and acting-ceo of Switchco, will serve as director of commercial business affairs, reporting to Ennals.

The schedule for conversion to a digital-only signal has been provisionally set by UK media regulator Ofcom. It will begin in the Scottish borders in 2008 and end with a final flick of the switch in the Channel Islands four years later.

Data sourced from; additional content by WARC staff