NI analogue signal switched off


More than 70 years of analogue broadcasting in the UK has ended with the complete switchover to digital television.

Anyone still using the original signal lost access to channels at 11.30pm.

The final broadcast was transmitted in Northern Ireland, simultaneously by the BBC and UTV, and fronted by Eamonn Holmes. It reviewed an era which included the second World War, the Cuban missile crisis and the end of the Soviet Union.

Dame Mary Peters from Belfast, the 1972 Olympic gold medallist in pentathlon, turned the final analogue switch off at a transmitter in the city at around midnight.

BBC Ceefax, the world’s first teletext service, also made its final bow.

Digital TV offers a wider range of channels than analogue and much of the content available on teletext-based services can be accessed on digital sets. Almost any existing analogue TV, even a black and white one, can be converted with the addition of a digital set-top box.

Northern Ireland was the last region in the UK to make the switch.

Communications regulator Ofcom’s chief executive Ed Richards said: “The UK’s switchover to digital has been a huge success. Not only has it created more TV choice for consumers, it has also freed up vital capacity that will be used to deliver mobile broadband services to 98 per cent of cities, towns and villages across the UK.”

Analogue BBC Two was permanently switched off in the early hours of Wednesday, October 10th. The change has been carried out in two stages to remind people that they need to take action to retain access to television services.

The UK’s conversion to digital TV began in 2007, with a region-by-region switch off.

The analogue channels have been replaced by over 70 digital channels with new capacity for mobile broadband services.

Mr Richards added: “Now that switchover is complete, Ofcom is looking forward to delivering the 4G auction as the next step in delivering new higher speed mobile broadband services.”

The process has been run by Digital UK, broadcasters and transmission company Arqiva.

Analogue TV broadcasting in the UK extends back to November 2nd, 1936 when the first public television broadcasting services were launched.

The switchover process began in April 2004 when Ofcom published its blueprint for turning off analogue.

UK minister for culture, communications and creative industries Ed Vaizey said: “This project has been a tremendous success.

“On time and under budget, it has given television viewers around the nation more choice than ever before, better picture quality and the creation of new channels, making a significant contribution to economic growth.”


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