Digital switchover: Q&A

I am still watching analogue because my Freeview reception is poor or non-existent? What will happen at switchover?

The power of Freeview transmissions will be increased at the same time as analogue is switched off. This means that anyone who gets a good analogue reception should get a reliable Freeview signal. BBC Ceefax and ITV/C4 Teletext Page 284 currently carry a test page to check if the signal is robust enough. However viewers who receive their signal from a relay transmitter will only get a modest selection of additional commercial channels. They will get the "Freeview Light" service which includes all the BBC's channels, some HD services, STV, C4, Channel Five and few extra commercial services.

How long do I have to switchover?

When each transmitter group switches, the process lasts two weeks. On the first date, BBC2 is switched off and the BBC's digital channels begin broadcasting from all the affected transmitters at full power. That means a Freeview box can be installed in homes where it would not have worked previously. Two weeks later BBC1, STV, C4 and C5 get turned off and replaced by more digital channels. You will probably need to rescan existing Freeview boxes on the first date, and new ones on the second date, though some update automatically.

I cannot currently receive Freeview but it's what I want at switchover. Is it worth buying a set top box just now?

It may be an idea to buy a box now, ready to install at switchover, to make sure there is no rush or local shortage.

Will I get Freeview HD?

Yes, it will become available from every transmitter in Scotland at switchover but you will need the appropriate equipment. You will need a Freeview HD box connected to an HD-ready television with an HDMI cable. You will be able to receive HD versions of BBC1, STV and C4 as well as the BBC HD Channel.

Will my old video recorder still work?

Yes, but it will need to be connected to your Freeview box and will only be able to record the channel you are watching.

I am disappointed that STV is not showing some ITV network programmes. Will switchover help?

No. Freeview does not carry ITV1 London, which is shown on Sky 993, Virgin 853 and Freesat 977. However individual programmes which STV does not show may be repeated on ITV2, ITV3 or ITV4. ITV1 London follows the schedule printed in newspapers and magazines for the ITV1 Border region apart from regional news and current affairs programmes.

What about the other variations of BBC1 and BBC2?

Freeview only carries BBC1 Scotland and BBC2 Scotland. However BBC1 HD will initially follow the BBC1 network schedule instead of BBC1 Scotland's. Satellite viewers can access all the regional and national variations of BBC1 and BBC2. Look from around channel 970. Cable carries the English, Welsh and Northern Irish versions of BBC1 as well as BBC1 Scotland.

Tell me more about the help scheme for some elderly and disabled people?

The Switchover Help Scheme can help eligible people convert one TV to digital. You're eligible to join the Scheme if you're aged 75 or over; if you get, or could get, Disability Living Allowance, Attendance Allowance, Constant Attendance Allowance or mobility supplement; or if you have lived in a care home for six months or more; or if you are registered blind or partially sighted.

For most people the Standard Offer (a Freeview box, including basic installation and a demonstration) is £40. If in addition you get certain income benefits, the standard offer is free.

More information at