Making sure you’re ready for the digital swtichover in Chichester Bognor Regis and Midhurst

C120131-1 Chi digital switchover  phot kate''Co-owner of True Vision, Ron Stephens.C120131-1
C120131-1 Chi digital switchover phot kate''Co-owner of True Vision, Ron Stephens.C120131-1

“A lot of people still don’t have a clue about it,” reveals Mark Somerville of Midhurst TV firm CJ Hampshire on the hugely-significant digital switchover.

“A lot of people still don’t have a clue about it,” reveals Mark Somerville of Midhurst TV firm CJ Hampshire on the hugely-significant digital switchover.

While the benefits of this era-defining evolution for television viewing with its vast increases in channels, improved picture quality and enhanced interactive features are clear, there are many people still unaware of its finer details.

This has been more than ably demonstrated by Trading Standards offering warnings of rogue traders across the country out to make money through preying on residents’ apparent lack of knowledge on the process of upgrading equipment.

One of the worst examples of this was a report last summer in the south west in which investigators found one unscrupulous firm telling a customer they needed a £1,000 digital TV in order to get the best from the digital switch-over.

This is anything but the case: in many instances just a Freeview box costing as little as £20 will be sufficient.

Within our area many are served by the Midhurst transmitter, which handles signals for around 94,000 homes in the north of the district, and which will start its shut-down on February 29 when BBC2 analogue will be removed, followed by full closure on March 14.

For those in South Chichester and Bognor Regis, most rely on the Rowridge transmitter based on the Isle of Wight (which deals with 620,000 homes) – the changes will be put action there from March 21.

You can find out which yours is through Digital UK at www.digitaluk.co.uk, the not-for-profit organisation leading the switch-over process. As the organisation explained, the majority of people won’t need a new aerial in order to receive digital signals. But what they will require is either a Freeview set-top box if your TV is an older non-digital variety, or will have digital TV receivers built in, as is the case with the latest LCD and plasma-screen televisions.

In some instances it may be a question of ageing aerial cabling needing to be replaced in order to receive higher-grade digital signals, but this should not be a hugely-expensive job.

Though there has been a costly and long-running campaign and TV adverts advising on the pending switch-over since it was first unveiled in 2005, concerns remain that a number of viewers appear to lack clear understanding of the changes.

“Though there’s been a lot from the government on this, most of our customers are elderly and though many are capable dealing with the switch-over, some of them feel that they cannot. But we are there to help them,” said Mr Somerville, of CJ Hampshire.

He added: “I am not looking forward to the switch-over day itself – that could be hell on earth!

“I think most people’s main TVs are ok, it is the second TVs in bedrooms they may not have considered. Our store in Liphook also has another problem in that the area is on a different receiver so the switchover date is different,” said the owner of the store, who added that despite having a loyal customer base, trading continued to be testing as competition from the internet meant its margins were not what they previously were.

50 YEARS ON SCREEN

Meanwhile in Chichester and Bognor Regis, the Stephens brothers, whose family started the Truevision TV company just over 50 years ago, have been experiencing a similar situation. As they revealed, the industry has now moved on light years from when their father was at the helm of the business in the days before colour television. The digital switch-over is something they’ve been building towards for some time.

“We won’t know quite how it’s going until it actually happens in March. But our customers tend to be fairly elderly in the main and we are trying to help them through this by booking installations for equipment before the changeover,” said Ron Stephens, who runs the Chichester branch of the independent firm.

He added: “Some people don’t realise you do not have to change your TV, but if it’s an old analogue one then you will need Freeview. For those that want additional high-definition TV, FreeSat is a good way of doing that – but you will need to have a small dish installed if you want it.

“Some of our customers still have VHS videos and it’s going to affect them as well, so they will need to be looked at. We’ve written to all our elderly customers about this, but there are a certain number of people who even after the government ads don’t seem to be aware of it.

“Digital TV is better than the present system; it’s been around for a few years now but only running at low power while the analogue system is still on.”

His brother Ralph, from the Bognor Regis store, believed the message about the switch-over was slowly but surely getting through.

He said: “There’s been an awful lot of change in our time in the business, which was started 51 years ago in our Bognor store. One of the main things has been all the manufacturers that have come and gone.

“We’ve just carried on through the last recession and this latest one as well. I think that because we are a family business, people do come back to us.”