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Last Updated: Wednesday, 26 May, 2004, 11:29 GMT 12:29 UK
Two towns pioneer digital TV
Digital TV advert
Digital TV is being heavily promoted
Two small towns in west Wales are set to become the first in the UK to switch off the analogue signal and convert to digital TV.

Ferryside and Llansteffan, which face each other across the Towy estuary in Carmarthenshire, have been picked to pilot a UK government trial.

If the residents agree, the analogue signal received through aerials will be turned off at later this year.

The government hopes to convert the whole of the UK to digital by 2010.

The 350 homes in the two villages will all have to have a digital receiving device, such as a Freeview box, or cable or satellite connections.

Any which do not already have this technology in their homes will get free digital terrestrial boxes.

The towns have been chosen ahead of other contenders because they both receive the current analogue signal through a single transmitter, which will be deactivated as part of the trial.

At present, up to 75% of the British population can receive digital channels through set top boxes and the like.

River Towy estuary
The trial towns face each other across the river Towy
However this coverage cannot be extended further until the analogue signal is turned off to make more room for digital transmissions.

The switch-off in west Wales is set to take place in November if all goes to plan.

As well as the five terrestrial channels of BBC One and Two, ITV, Channel Four, and Five, residents will receive 20 digital channels for free, with crystal clear reception.


Janine Bowen, postmistress in Ferryside, thought people in the town would welcome the trial.

"The thought of having something free, and for people who haven't got Sky or digiboxes already, it's quite a good thing.

"I don't think anybody will refuse," she said.

Cyril Lewis, a resident who already has digital reception because his aerial points in a different direction to most in the town, praised the new technology.

"The reception and choice is very good, no problem.

But he added: "The only thing I'm annoyed about is that I had to pay full price for mine, and now I hear they're giving them away."

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