Blogging from the Highlands of Scotland until I return to the Murcia region of Spain in the Autumn for a month or so
'From fanaticism to barbarism is only one step' - Diderot

Thursday, 15 September 2005

Scottish Borders to go digital by 2008

The Borders and Dumfries and Galloway are likely to be switched-over to digital television broadcasting by 2008, when it seems the analogue signals will no longer be broadcast. The rest of Scotland is expected to follow a year later.

I got my first digital 'set-top' box a couple of years ago and use it for watching a lot of television now, but also to listen to the radio as well. The quality of the pictures and sound is generally far superior to analogue signals.

But there are problems with using this new technology. Oh, provided you live in a good area for digital signals (as I do), then there is no difficulty in getting it to work after a fashion, but a bit of 'juggling' may be required. For example, whilst most modern TVs have SCART sockets, some older models do not. If you have one of the latter then you need to make sure that your set-top box doesn't just have an RF 'loop through' (they all have that, so far as I can see, so the signal can be fed to VCRs, etc), so that the RF output signal channel can be modified so it does not clash with any other local TV signal; what this means is that if your TV is without a SCART you either have to get one of the more expensive set-top boxes, not one of the 'cheapos', because they are the ones most likely to allow the RF output signal channel to be adjusted - or you need to replace TVs without a SCART socket. Simple as that - but it costs, of course. I now have four digital tuners so I can receive a digital signal in every room, either direct or through my flat's data system.

The other ill-publicised fact is that once analogue signals are switched off, you will need at least two digital tuners to enable one TV/radio station to be received whilst recording another. Also, for most people, you will require a digital tuner for each television, unless (as mine is) your home is wired to transmit signals from a main 'base station' to the other rooms. I find that, with the increasing numbers of channels available, I am actually watching less television than before - a lot of what is broadcast is complete 'tosh' - and what I do watch (apart from news broadcasts) I generally record for watching later at my convenience, and I can then fast-forward through the ad-breaks if it's from a commercial channel.

People who have the spare cash to throw around will just migrate, but I think poorer people will find it more difficult and more elderly people may just find the change too complicated, unless they are hand-held through the whole process. In a few year's time the old days of analogue broadcasting will seem like a distant memory - enjoy it while you still can!

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