The Manchester Evening News reports that almost half of all the aerial installers they contacted erroneously (and profitably) mislead their potential customers, charging them up to 100 for an aerial they do not need.
The Winter Hill transmitter which covers the Manchester area has required the use of a 'group C/D' aerial since the introduction of 625-line colour television in the 1960s. When terrestrialdigital television (aka Freeview) was introduced in November 1988 these new signals were in the range used by a C/D aerial.
Despite this, one installer told the MEN "You will definitely need a new aerial after the switchover - everybody will. You might be able to pick up bits of channels with your existing aerial and set top box but you won't be able to watch most of them" and another You're going to need a digital aerial".
But eleven of the twenty contacted gave the correct advice, echoed by Digital UK, "In most cases, if your current aerial is in good condition, you should be able to receive the digital transmissions."
He said: "There are definitely profiteers out there" he said. "It's simple - get a Freeview box and plug it in. If it doesn't work you have a problem with your aerial. Anyone who says you would need a new one if your set-top box is working is being ridiculous."
I can understand why people are easily misled because there does not seem to have been much information handed out on the switchover. But I can definitely, definitely say that most people served by Winter Hill will not need a new aerial.
There is no such thing as a 'digital' aerial. All UHF Band 4 or 5 transmissions traditionally used for television transmission need some form or aerial, either a yagi or a modified yagi or a log-periodic type, aimed at the transmission source. The encoding of the RF signals makes absolutely no difference to how the aerial responds to the received signals so they will all work equally well with digital and analogue encoded signals irrespective of any label on the aerial. I have been on the TV industry for 50 years before retiring, working in the manufacturing and service sides. I also hold an MSc in Electronics which includes research into signalreception problems.
Aerials labelled as being 'digital' tend to be charged at a higher price merely because of the word 'digital' in the name but they are a waste of money.
If you try a test using a 'digital' aerial and a standard 'analogue' aerial of the same pattern and number of elements you will find the signal received is the same on both!