North-West Evening Mail
Mon 17 Dec 2007


IN THE PICTURE? Some residents in West Cumbria are now struggling to receive a TV signal after the digital switchover
IN THE PICTURE? Some residents in West Cumbria are now struggling to receive a TV signal after the digital switchover

ANGRY TV licence payers want to know why their valley, deemed to be leading the digital revolution, cannot receive television signals.

Some Eskdale viewers were left with fuzzy or blank screens after the last remaining analogue TV channels were turned off at 3.27am this morning.

Their homes fall within the Whitehaven area, which is the first in the country to have its analogue television signals switched off.

Around 25,000 households have been urged to transfer to digital television. But transmitter problems mean Eskdale residents are receiving poor signals.

A Copeland Borough Council meeting heard fears are growing that the digital revolution is leading isolated communities into a television famine.

Copeland Conservative group leader and Seascale councillor David Moore called for the council to put pressure on Digital UK to upgrade the Greengarth transmitter. Cllr Moore, whose patch includes Eskdale, said before this morning’s switchover: “Eskdale will have only limited reception as it always has done with analogue.

“We need Digital UK to upgrade the boosters before they leave the area.”

Television expert John Clark, who works in Whitehaven’s aerial installation trade, said: “With the digital signal you either get a picture or you don’t, there’s nothing in-between.

“Eskdale has good digital reception in places but boosters do need improving.

“The problem is that switchover has been rushed through in less than a month, meaning problems need to be fixed very quickly.”

Residents once shared the cost of paying for a now outdated booster transmitter at Greengarth to improve television reception in the village.

Most now have Sky instead to guarantee their service.

Steve Bateman, owner of Eskdale’s King George IV Inn, said: “Most people without Sky are having little or no improvement to their picture.

“Because of the shape of the valley there is no direct line to the transmitter. We had poor reception with analogue, and we still do now it’s gone digital.”

A spokesman for Digital UK, the body behind the switchover, said: “The digital signal has been tested and the coverage pattern is the same as it was before.

“We always said that if you had poor reception then getting digital through your roof aerial could be problematic.”

He said the digital signal will broadcast to the same 98.5 per cent of British households which received the analogue signal. He added that some Copeland residents may have to use an alternative provider to Freeview to avoid blank screens.

If you are experiencing problems call the Digital UK helpline on 08456 505050.

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