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Digital TV switchover to take place next October

IRELAND'S switchover to the new Saorview digital television broadcasting will take place on October 24 next year.

Any homes using aerials that do not switch to the new system will lose all Irish television channels on that date.

Communications Minister Pat Rabitte announced the date today and said the new system would give viewers clearer pictures and better sound quality.

The analogue television network in Ireland will be switched off on that date. A switchover to digital is also happening in Northern Ireland on the same day.

The minister said it would also offer more channels and free up space on the broadcast spectrum for other purposes including mobile and broadband services.



Reliant

Around 250,000 households currently rely on analogue to watch TV.

An awareness campaign about the switchover date is underway.

Cable and satellite customers won't be affected, but there are still swathes of the country where viewers have been heavily reliant on the analogue signal -- especially in rural areas and near to the Border.

But despite repeated calls, the Government will not be offering any assistance to the poorest TV customers for the start-up costs.

Customers will need either a digital set-top box hooked up to their existing TV, or else a modern TV with an inbuilt digital receiver.

After choosing either a set-top box or a new TV, some customers will also need to upgrade or adjust their aerial to be able to receive the new digital signal.

aokeeffe@herald.ie