In videos: Digital Switchover Guide

Published Friday, 14 October 2011
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On 24 October 2012, the existing analogue system in Northern Ireland will be permanently replaced by one using digital signals, as part of the digital switchover.

Frequently Asked Questions:

When do I switch?

Analogue services won't be switched off in Northern Ireland until 24 October 2012, so you have plenty of time to get ready.

If I don't do anything, will I lose my television?

If you only have analogue TV Services (four or five channels) any TV you want to keep watching after the switchover will need to be converted with a digital box.

If you already have more than five standard TV channels on all your TV sets, then you are probably ready for switchover. However, if you only have digital TV on your main set, you'll need to think about converting any others. If you have Freeview you will need to re-tune at each stage of the digital switchover.

Satellite and cable services such as Sky, Freesat and Virgin Media are not affected by switchover.

Do I need to buy a new TV?

No, you don't need to get a new TV as almost any TV can be converted with a digital box, even black and white ones and televisions without scart sockets. Your television needs to have either a scart or RF input. Unfortunately if your television does not have either of these inputs it cannot be converted to receive digital television.

Most, but not all, digital boxes come with scart sockets so make sure you check if you television has one. If your TV was made after 1996 it will have a scart socket.

If your TV does not have a scart socket, you can purchase a digital box that connects to the RF input (aerial socket) on your television.

Thomson, Humax, Linsar and Commtel are some of the manufacturers that currently produce these. An electrical retailer will be able to advise further on your options, the key thing is to ensure that the box has an RF Modulator which means it will work without a Scart connection.

Do I need a new aerial?

Most rooftop aerials and some set-top aerials will be fine after switchover. If you decide to get a service like Freeview, BT Vision or Top Up TV you can check your aerial by visiting the aerial test on Teletext page 284.

If you decide to get your digital TV service from Sky TV, Virgin Media, Freesat from Sky or freesat on all the TV sets in your home, you won't need an aerial.

Am I eligible for help with the cost of the Digital Switchover?

The answer is yes if you are aged 75 or over, or have lived in a care home for 6 months or more, or registered blind or partially sighted, or get (or could get): Disability Living Allowance (DLA), or Attendance or Constant Attendance Allowance, or Mobility supplement.

The Switchover Help Scheme will offer equipment and practical support to older and disabled viewers. It will write to eligible viewers in the run-up to switchover. Call 0800 40 85 900 or visit for more details.

How do I retune my set top box?

Switchover is a two-stage process. If you have, or are planning to get Freeview, BT Vision or Top Up TV, you will need to re-tune your digital box or TV if at any time you find you have lost any TV channels.

Re-tuning regularly is good practice. This ensures that you keep your equipment up to date, and that you have all of the latest channels. If you are not sure how to re-tune, follow the guide below. It is a good idea to practice re-tuning before switchover, so you know how to re-tune on the day. Satellite and cable television does not need to be re-tuned.

These instructions are a guide only - each product works slightly differently. Your instruction manual will explain the process for your particular product. If you don't have a copy of the user manual to hand please follow the following generic guide. Make sure you do a full re-tune following the guide below. Some product menus have 'add channels' or 'auto search' functions which may not restore all channels.

Viewers will need to retune at both stages of the digital switchover.

Generic retune guide:

1. Switch on your Freeview TV or box. Press 'menu' on your remote control.

2. From the 'menu' options on screen, select the 'set up' or 'installation' menu.

3. Select 'first time installation' option (sometimes called 'factory reset', 'full retune' or 'default settings'. Some digital boxes will ask you for a code. If you haven't already changed it this is usually either 0000 or 1234.

4. Press 'OK' if your equipment asks if you want to delete all your channels - don't worry, this is normal.

5. Channels will be automatically installed. This may take a few minutes, and your equipment may shut down and restart.

6. Remember to re-tune every piece of Freeview equipment you have.

7. After retuning, you may have to reset any favourite lists and picture settings.

8. If you re-tune a digital TV recorder, previously recorded programmes will be kept, but you should re-set future recordings (including 'series links') or you may lose them.

If you have further questions read the full guide to the Digital Switchover or call 08456 50 50 50

Digital UK's Top Five Tips:

1. Check out the different ways of getting digital TV, including subscription-free options, at Digital UK's postcode checker, which provides details of digital services available in your area. Visit or call 08456 50 50 50.

2. Remember the Switchover Help Scheme will offer equipment and practical support to older and disabled viewers. It will write to eligible viewers in the run-up to switchover. Call 0800 40 85 900 or visit for more details.

3. Don't throw out your old TV - almost all sets can be converted with a digital box. Your existing aerial should also be fine for digital if it receives a good picture now.

4. If you have Freeview, check you know how to retune your TV or box - you'll need to do it at both stages of switchover. For more information visit

5. Channel availability: Viewers can use the postcode checker at to check channel availability in their area. Digital TV is also available via cable, satellite and broadband.

Before switchover, Freeview channels are available from main transmitter sites only, offering viewers with digital TVs or set top boxes a line-up of more than 40 channels. Switchover will see local relay transmitters upgraded to digital.

After switchover, relay transmitters will broadcast around 15 Freeview TV channels, including BBC One, BBC Two, UTV, Channel 4 and Channel 5 plus associated services such as BBC Three.

© UTV News
Comments Comments
JOHN ALLEN in OMAGH CO.TYRONE N.I. wrote (754 days ago):
David in Bangor wrote (816 days ago):
When will be starting to broadcast HD on Freesat? According to press releases on this site, they promised this would happen along with the switchover, but I have not seen it come on line yet.
Barbara in Dundonald wrote (829 days ago):
I would like to point out that Curry's charged me £40 to retune a digital tv I bought from them less then a year ago. They retuned it on the 9th October and on the 10th they had to retune it again (free). On the 24th the tv needed retuning again and they refused to retune it unless I paid a further £40, as a pensioner I feel they overcharging
Jennifer in BT5 wrote (830 days ago):
I have a freeview box attached to my tv upstairs. It is also attached to an inside aerial but when I tried to retune it I got the message 'no signal available'. How do I sort this please?
michael mclaughlin in drumlea omagh wrote (830 days ago):
i am not happy with the amount of tv channels after digital swithover.there are lot of channels missing which was said i would get like itv3&4,because ilive in the countyside ,they couldnot be bothered to put us on a main tranforomer only sud in strabane.we have to pay the same tv licensing
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