Campaign on move to digital TV urged

 

A CAMPAIGN to highlight the switch from analogue to digital television broadcast services needs to be implemented immediately, an Oireachtas Communications Committee heard yesterday.

TVAccess, a coalition of organisations in the disability and ageing sector, told the committee of the need to start the campaign early to “make sure the most vulnerable and hard to reach don’t get left behind”.

Under EU rules all televisions in the State will have to make the switch from analogue to digital by 2012. The roll-out of Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT) is scheduled to begin later this year and all analogue signals will be switched off on January 1st, 2012.

Dr Mark Magennis from the National Council of the Blind Ireland (NCBI) told the committee of the threat of social exclusion facing the elderly and disabled by the switchover.

He said the “lack of subtitles and sign language, lack of easy-to-use remote controls for people with dexterity issues, inaccessible customer equipment and the extra costs associated with switching” were all reasons people could become socially excluded.

“In these times of economic problems it is going to be very important to do this cost-effectively so we don’t end up in 2012 with a bunch of people who still haven’t been able to make the switch.

Joan O’Donnell of the Disability Federation of Ireland told the committee that the Government needs to look at the switchover as “a broad social issue”. She said as people get older there is a higher incidence of disability, “especially sensory” and that the Government needs to ensure they are included in the roll-out scheme.