How do I get Digital?

Digital Terrestrial Television - reception:

Ofcom have stated that “if you can receive ordinary analogue TV today, you will receive digital TV on switchover”.

Following the digital switchover of the South West in 2009, West follows in March 2010 and the rest of Dorset had, unfortunately, to wait for 2012.    For those who receive Digital Terrestrial TV (Freeview) today – the service you receive depends purely on whether your aerial can ‘see’ (line of sight) a main transmitter e.g. Stockland Hill near Honiton, Beacon Hill near Torquay (or Rowridge on the Isle of Wight).    This gives full coverage of all Freeview channels.  However, for those who have to rely on local transmitters that relay the digital signal on from the main ones, they will only receive around half of the full Freeview set of channels (although there is no rebate on your Licence Fee!).  In addition, after the main re-tune in September 2009, local relays stopped transmitting ITV 3 and ITV 4 - very popular channels!   DorBAG tried to investigat who decided on this unpopular action, and whether the powers that be can be pursuadecd to reinstate these channels.   Needless to say, we were passed from pillar to post and managed to achieve nothing!   The reason for them being chopped was, apparently, to free up space for forthcoming High Definition (HD) channels.

Unfortunately, due to the topography of parts of Dorset, there are some residents who just can’t receive terrestrial TV of any sort because of the terrain blocking the signal.   They used to have to go for Sky, but now they can choose the FreeSat service which offers almost all of Freeview, plus a large number of other channels or, of course, Sky.   


For advice on aerials see the following:

  1. BBC South video showing an installation of two digital ready aerials and the results
  2. Tower Hill Technical Services, a local company and aerial installers, have written an article on aerials to explain the problems and what you need for optimum reception.
  3. The BBC analogue terrestrial aerial survey shows clearly typical problems with today’s aerial installations in the area, and makes a wide range of useful recommendations/tips to help you get the best reception.

Digital televisions – set top box or integrated TV?

We are seeing the prices of Digital Televisions (with the digital √) dropping.   Ideally it is best to buy an integrated TV (with Freeview or Freesat built in) so you only have one box and one controller. If your aerial is in good condition you may well not need to buy a new one – you can simply try it and see, or pay a local reputable aerial company to do a survey for you.   However, you still have the choice of whether to either buy a set top box (quite cheap) to connect between your aerial and your TV to enable you to receive digital TV, or buy a new integrated television. Nowadays, you canonly buy digital TVs – set top boxes were an interim solution only.   It is worth noting that a number of integrated TVs have both Freeview and Freesat built in!

You can also choose to buy the appropriate DVD recorder with either Freeview or Freesat - some with two channels allowing simultaneous recording.

DAB (Digital Audio Broadcasting):

This service is still quite new and is not complete by any means.   Coverage is patchy as the transmitters are not all in place.   However, if you want to have DAB anyway, you should consider having an external aerial, and buying a set with a socket for the external aerial.   Aerial suppliers (any member of the Confederation of Aerial Industries - CAI) will carry out a survey for you (there would be a small charge) for digital TV and/or DAB reception, and can then advise on the best aerials for your particular situation or whether your present installation is sufficient.

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