Page last updated at 19:26 GMT, Wednesday, 31 March 2010 20:26 UK

Wales is first UK nation to switch fully to digital TV


The Wenvoe transmitter has ceased broadcasting BBC One, ITV1 and S4C in analogue.

Wales has become the first nation in the UK to go fully digital in its television signal.

The Wenvoe transmitter and its relay stations, serving 649,000 homes in south east Wales, started switching from analogue to digital at midnight.

Digital UK, which manages the switch, said the last relay station, at Tonyrefail in Rhondda Cynon Taf, shut off analogue in mid afternoon.

The weather has delayed the conversion of a transmitter near Pontypool.

While Digital UK says it the switchover has gone well, there are issues along the border with England.

BBC technology correspondent Rory Cellan-Jones said more viewers in English counties bordering Wales may find Welsh TV channels appearing on their sets, and vice versa.

Anthony Lyons
I think this is the best thing the government has ever done for disabled and old people
Anthony Lyons, TV viewer

The switchover in Wales began in August in Swansea, which became the first fully digital city in the country.

Mid and north Wales followed, with the south east the last to be converted.

The Wenvoe transmitter and its 75 relay stations cover a large area including Cardiff, Newport, Monmouth, Merthyr Tydfil, Brecon and Rhondda Cynon Taf.

The transmitter has ceased broadcasting BBC One, ITV1 and S4C in analogue.

Tonyrefail in Rhondda Cynon Taf was the final place in Wales to complete the digital switch.

Viewers using Freeview, BT Vision and Top-up TV had to retune their sets and anyone who has not switched to digital will lose their television service.

The switch to digital is being managed by Digital UK, which said before the process began that one in three people in Wales could not receive Freeview services.

Emyr Hughes, Digital UK's national manager for Wales, said: "Wenvoe is the last of them but is the biggest by far. Wenvoe with its relays covers more than half of all homes in Wales."

Emyr Hughes, Digital UK's national manager for Wales, said help will be available for the next month, if still needed.

He said the digital switch had been a long process but had gone well, with 98.4% of households in Wales - and the UK - having digital television after the switch.

The others did not have analogue television to start with, he added.

"It's been fine. Most people managed it without any difficulty at all. There was quite high satellite coverage in Wales to start with," he said.

"I can't think of any instances where there's people who were unhappy with digital television but there were some people who found it a bit more challenging because they had unusual equipment, or elderly people who needed a bit more support."

Meanwhile, security-checked installers have been visiting homes to fit digital equipment.

Help scheme

Their services are being made available under the BBC-run Switchover Help Scheme for disabled and elderly viewers.

The project offers help to eligible disabled and elderly viewers who cannot afford digital equipment and advises those who are finding the switchover difficult.

Anthony Lyons, 56, who received free digital equipment, said: "For people like myself who are in a wheelchair or are disabled or elderly, this scheme is absolutely fantastic for people who can't afford to pay for a digibox.

"We have got the full range of 131 channels. I think this is the best thing the government has ever done for disabled and old people.

"Now people can stay in their house if they can't get out or if they are waiting for a carer and they can watch television with a mixture of channels.

New digibox

"For people like myself, this will make their lives better."

Age concern groups have voiced concern that elderly people are being encouraged to buy expensive equipment for the switchover.

"A lot of people are under the impression that you need a brand new television or aerial," said Iwan Rhys Roberts, spokesman for the merged charity Age Concern Cymru and Help the Aged in Wales.

He said: "All people need is a digibox. As long as your existing aerial was working before it should work after switchover".

Elderly people and their relatives have been advised to speak to Digital UK or an Age Concern Cymru group if they have any questions.

• S4C has announced that it is to launch a new High Definition channel. S4C Clirlun will be rolled out across south and west Wales from 30 April, with the remainder of the country able to view it by July.

The Digital UK helpline is 08456 50 50 50 (08458 48 48 48 for Welsh speakers).

Well we had the switch over some months ago, all went well and we can pick up a load of channels for free, although I just use my Sky Box as its easier to be honest.

And Rich, just to put you right, the BBC has it right, Wales is a nation, hence the 6 nations rugby ;) but the whole of the UK is country, not the different parts of it.
Craig, Swansea, Wales

All this digital turn over may all be well and good but what about all the people that can't afford the equipment,,, there left with a few channels and left paying £100+ for a colour tv license for a few channels,, our country is useless when it comes to public appreciation the government need to pull together and get there thumbs out of there arses.
Michael Bassett, Clacton On Sea

The one annoying thing about digital is the picture is all or nothing. I can watch an analogue fuzzy picture without too much problem, but if it was digital I would see nothing
Gerry, Newport

For weeks and weeks there were signs all around the town and leaflets through the door telling us to be ready for the digital switchover in our area. The date came and went, nothing changed. Why? Because our area gets its signal from BBC Midlands, not BBC Wales. So its just been a waste of money so far. It's another year before us on Midlands telly need to go digital.
Tim, Wrexham, Wales

I have lots of channels ,many of no interest at all like QVC. More annoyingly I have Welsh news programmes and can't seem to get other local news ( the West) which I'd prefer
squirrel, pontyclun

I can only get a small selection of the channels. I now need to go by a digital ariel. Just feels like I am being taxed to watch tv even though I have a license.cost cost cost
Anthony, chippenham

You lot above are what is wrong with the UK, you moan for moanings sake!

The dominant signal here in England, is Wales. The English stations are so weak as to be frequently unwatchable as they are so pixilated. It is very annoying as I can't receive local news & programmes, only Welsh. Now it is going to get worse.
J. Malpas, Chester, England

It's hardly surprising that the BBC has sponsored an initiative to ensure that people continue to receive TV... and so continue to pay their TV licence!

I'm on Sky so no issues, but if I lost a truckload of channels on switchover, I'd just stop paying my TV licence until the situation was resolved. Simple.
Jim, Yeovil

Change for changes sake as per usual and as per usual nothing goes smoothly. All the time they have had to plan this and they still don't get it right. If they can't provide a decent service where by all get the full benefits of freeview we should be paying less for our licences.
Mark Holland, bristol

Unsurprisingly the only channels I receive now are the BBC channels. Odd that the organisation championing the process is the only organisation I can now get. Convenient.
Stephen, Caerphilly

Since last upgrade ive lost about 15channels on freeview.Main ones itv4 film4 yesterday receptn on channel 4 not as good tuned to Sutton Coldfield.How can i regain these channels.
D.Tudor, Wolverhampton

I purchased the BBC Digital Box and I only receive about 12 Channels. What about the rest of them BBC.
gaffa, Glanconwy, Wales

I have just watched with the usual feeling of annoyance your item covering the digital switchover in Wales entitled "Wales becomes first UK digital TV nation with switch"

Why do you perpetuate the myth that you need a new television receiver to view these extra channels? Your report showed a dear older lady trying to get to grips with a new, presumably LCD set when with a £20 set top she could still be using her previous TV.

Not only does this encourage the disposal of perfectly serviceable TV receivers with all the hazardous materials issues, it does little for the UK balance of payments!!

As a public broadcaster please be a little more responsible with your reports.
Graham Rendell, Guildford, Surrey

No problem with rescanning my box this morning but only picked up 17 channels. That's the problem with living in the Valley's!
Ian Dugmore, Newbridge

The Wenvoe (Wales) digital power has now gone up to 100,000 Kw from 5000Kw. On 7th April Mendip (West) goes fully digital & power rises tenfold as well. After this date you may need to do manual downloads to put your regional channels back in their right places if you watch news etc from both areas. All channel numbers are detailed on Type in your transmitter name to find channels.
ExpatKS, Qatar and UK

I have no TV set at home.If I need to watch television at home I watch on line on the laptop. The BBC beta on line tv picture quality is excellent.
Simon Wilmshurst, Worcester

The digital switchover has been very straight forward - we now have more channels than ever before - this can only be good news. Great work Digital UK - we should have done this years ago!
Iain Glover, Ponthir, Newport

Anybody receiving digital TV from a repeat station will only receive a few channels. Making the TV licence yet another tax on rural Wales!
Anon, Mid Wales

I moved from London to Finland in 2001. Digital broadcasts began shortly afterwards. On 30th September/1st October 2007, all the Finnish analogue transmetters were switched off in one operation, not bit by bit as in Britain. Our digibox locked onto the first channels that it found although there were other more powerful signals available. However, once I realised what was happening and manually tuned it, we got strong clear signals, despite having an aerial with half its directors missing!

Sorry, I didn't get a picture at all...just kidding luck...J
Joyce, Okanagan Falls, BC,Canada

I bought New ariel, set top box and have had BBC digital for the past couple of weeks. The switch over has just now taken place and I NOW have nothing not a sausage for the first time since 1952 I have no TV - well thank you very much
Vincent Neale, New Tredegar South Wales UK

I hope you do better in Wales than we did in the US. We lost distant stations and a couple of major local channels in the changeover to digital here in the US. Nobody seems to care because something like 85% of Americans have cable TV and so are unaffected, but there is no cable where we live. OTOH, most of the channels we still get now include extra 'sub-channels', so although we have lost ABC and CBS we now have Al Jazeera and Russia Today!
Alun Palmer, English expat in USA

I live in Brighton; have all the equipment for DAB and digi TV but no reception, what's the point ? Brighton was a playhouse for George the umpteemth but it would do him no favours now ! The excellent concerts in the Dome notwithstanding. I shall go back to live music and more visits to local stuff - forget the BEEB and it's misguided (19th century) approach
John Clare, Brighton

The switchover has been fine - no issues in receiving the new channels.

What is frustrating is that my area does not receive as many channels as others, because the signal is being 'boosted' as opposed to having a dedicated transmitter.

It doesn't bother me, really - I have Sky+ and I won't use Freeview, but the principle grates somewhat. I appreciate it's only some commercial channels we won't receive, but the fact that Freeview is 'free-er' in some places than here is annoying.
Dean Seabrook, Abertillery, Blaenau Gwent, Wales

Since when is Wales or England Scotland or Northern Ireland for that matter a nation? My nationality is British not English. Wales is the first digital COUNTRY in the UK, NOT the first nation. Will the BBC start being a bit more BRITISH like its title and stop fanning divisionist flames.
Rich, Gateshead, England?

My experience with the switchover was easy and simple. Just press Menu, then setup, and then Auto Store. Sorted!
Josh, Aberfan, Merthyr Tydfil, Wales

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South Wales Evening Post Wales switches to digital TV - 1 hr ago
Yahoo! UK and Ireland Wales switches over to digital TV - 5 hrs ago Wales prepares for final digital TV switchover - 21 hrs ago

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