The four analogue television signals that the people of Whitehaven, Cumbria, (and the surrounding area) use to watch BBC ONE, BBC TWO, ITV-1 and Channel 4 will be switched off and three of these transmission frequencies (C46, C43 and C50) will be used for digital from autumn 2007. This will make them the second community, after Ferryside and Llansteffan in West Wales to lose their analogue TV service. (Transmission channel 40 is being returned to Ofcom for privatization, and channel five will be part of the BBC B multiplex).
Labour ministers Shaun Woodward and Margaret Hodge announced today (20 July 2006) that Whitehaven will be the first place to receive half of Freeview, just 14 of the television and a handful of the digital radio channels.
According to the letter, the DCMS is confirming that the rest of the Border TV region will start in October-December 2008 with the Selkirktransmitter and its relays. The region will be completed between April and June 2009 with the conversion of Caldbeck. (This confirms the schedule published already by ukfree.tv).
"The people of Whitehaven will lead the rest of the UK into the digital future. They will be the first to experience the enormous benefit from digital switchover as it will happen across the UK", Shaun Woodward (Broadcasting minister) said, "Over 15 million UK homes are already enjoying the benefits of digital TV, such as greater choice of channels, red button interactive features and better quality pictures and sound."
"We know from the Ferryside trial that it's possible to switch a community from analogue to digital television, and we know from the Bolton trial that older and disabled people can make the switch with the right help. I'm pleased that Digital UK will bring both the technical and support aspects of switchover together in Whitehaven and begin the biggest change to British broadcasting since colour TV", he enthused.
Industry minister Margaret Hodge added "Digital switchover will help the UK maintain its position as a world leader in broadcasting. It will also ensure today's current terrestrial broadcasting network is replaced by the best technology available, digital. Whitehaven will be a great opportunity to prove that we can give people all the information that they need to switch their TV equipment easily."
Ford Ennals, part of the 20-strong team at Digital UK announced that "Whitehaven [is] at the forefront of the most exciting change to television for a generation. Switchover will significantly add to the choice of channels available and give people options in how to go digital. Digital UK's job is to make sure everyone knows how to prepare for the change and that no one is left behind. In the coming months, we will be working closely with many different organisations in Whitehaven to ensure everyone is prepared for switchover and the benefits it will bring."