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The Digital Switchover - An Alternative Opinion

In September 2009, we received an email from a site visitor expressing his concern about the Switchover. We've elected to publish this in its entirety, as we feel it represents the feelings of many affected by the cost and complexity of the Switchover.


You all make it sound so simple and relatively cheap, the reality is, and will be, that this message is far, far from the truth.

Take the elderly for example. Somebody in her 80's who over the years has mastered the TV and controller and the video recorder and controller and video+. How are they going to continue? Two digiboxes with then 4 controllers and so many confusions and complications with a recording facility that will be beyond the ability of most of them (no video+, the difficulty of getting to the right channel etc). I know what's involved as I have the experience and have done it all - pity that more of the decision makers and advisors hadn't and haven't also!

Ok spend extra money and replace the TV (analogue) with a digital one with Freeview inbuilt (as increasingly most have been over the last couple of years). That still doesn't solve the video recording problems. Ah well, spend some more money and replace the analogue video recorder with a digital/Freeview one - oh, you can't as they don't sell them any more, it's all DVD's and Hard Disks that the elderly don't want and don't understand and also won't play their old recorded videos from which they gain much pleasure. Also, a DVD won't go into the (identical) video recorder/player (mainly) she has in the bedroom, so, do I have to change that as well she asks? More changes, more learning and understanding, more despair.

Oh, of course, like many others who have a portable TV, it runs on its own aerial so, will I be able to watch TV when in bed, she also asks, as I often go off early because I can keep warmer and save energy. I don't know I have to say, your reception is poor at present, but I don't mind the snowy picture sometimes she replies. Ah, it's different with digital I have to tell her, as the picture breaks up and is unwatchable and there are no stages of 'snowiness'. You will only find out after the switch over and many elsewhere have already found that they cannot watch it unless they get a new aerial (which might or might not work, pity no sale or return) they or have an external aerial brought into the bedroom (or a split from the current external assuming the reception and cabling can manage it). Oh, I cannot do that because of the other flats in the block. So a possible dead end?

So, what does she do?

Why, when she asks, why aren't there digital video recorders like my current one, because that would make things easier? Maybe you could answer that one. What pressure have you put on manufacturers in this respect? Yes, there are a few multi devices, say £200 and well onwards, but they are also so complicated.

What extra will I get out of it she asks? For you and many millions like you, none I have to reply. So what's it all about, I'm confused. Yes, so am I!!!!

What do you suggest? Please don't twitter on about the government scheme for the elderly, it's virtually worthless and the advice they will get will be far less relevant than from somebody who also knows the circumstances of the person in question. And any instructions for the ongoing use of equipment needs to be gone through time and time again and written down in their own personal language and terminology for it to work and to be successful. And is that part of the Government scheme and thinking?

I see the Sky uptake in areas that have already changed over is pretty high - many will be people who have despaired of a simple solution and are now paying a lot of money monthly, often money that they cannot afford. Is that what digital was all about? Do the decision makers have shares or relatives in Sky?

Sorry for rambling on, but I have outlined a real case and there are many who are or will be in the same situation - most don't know it yet and are easily misled by misleading TV publicity. Somebody needs to shout on their behalf and to start providing some solutions.

Thank you

Martin Minett from North Yorkshire (Mother in Somerset)

PS: I am forced by the Government (and EEC) into using lamps that do not provide proper light and have many other limitations - something about saving energy I am told. But my current TV is fine, my current video recorder is fine and all of the tapes and my current portable TV is fine. If I have to scrap all of those (and gosh, think of the millions of others likewise) then isn't that rather a large waste of energy? Something doesn't seem to add up here?


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