Sunday, April 08, 2012

The Digital Switchover screw-up

London is currently undergoing the Digital Switchover. For several months now we have been bombarded with leaflets and posters telling us that analogue signals will be switched off and that we need to get digital decoders in order to continue watching television. So you'd think we've been overloaded with information and can easily find out everything we need to know.

Unfortunately in the midst of all this there has been a major information failure that has completely neglected two sections of the audience - those who've had digital television the longest and those who purchase second hand decoders, many of whom still use the earliest decoders. Many have reported that since the switchover began last Wednesday they have been unable to get the following channels:
  • BBC One (although it's still available on analogue for another ten days)
  • BBC Two
  • BBC Three
  • CBBC
  • BBC News
(The other BBC channels are unaffected.)

There has been no end of stress and frustration as people keep trying to add to and reset their list of channels in the hope of recovering the channels to no avail. The Digital UK website is useless on this - if you follow through the FAQ the section on Missing channels or wrong news service? pretends that all will be well by retuning. The telephone helpline is even worse, with operators trying the classic stalling tactic of stalling callers in the hope they will go away.

Only when rooting around submitting a question on the website did I find Why am I missing certain channels following a retune of my digital recorder? and that doesn't really explain the situation or cover all equipment effected.

Basically the problem is that the digital signal is being upgraded in strength (from 2K to 8K), but some older equipment is unable to handle the stronger signal and needs either a software update or to be replaced altogether.

It sounds simple, but I was only able to find out the full cause of the problem thanks to Svelte Kroton on the Gallifrey Base forum who wrote the following post in reply to my enquiry on the matter:
(Warning: You'll need to be registered and logged in to read it)

The reason they're missing those channels is because they've changed from a 2k signal to an 8k signal.
Currently BBC4, BBC Parliament, CBeebies, and the BBC Radio channels are still on a 2k signal on MUX B.
But from the 18th the rest of the channels will also change to 8k.
If your decoder box is too old to understand 8k signals, which is what it sounds like, you'll lose all tv channels at that point.
Some transmitters will continue to broadcast some less important channels in 2k for up to 24 months after switchover, but this probably won't be any of the channels you actually want to watch.

All the money the BBC spent on telling people to get ready for digital switchover, and they completely neglected to get the message across that people who have been ready for switchover for years, are about to find themselves without telly.
Bit of a shambles, really.

Indeed - a right screw-up. Given the nature of the advertising, people who've had digital the longest naturally have every reason to assume they have been fully prepared for years, and had no reason to expect this debacle.

And since the BBC is at fault, would it be at all unreasonable for people to get some of the licence fee back for services unavailable when the BBC gave them every reason to think they wouldn't have a problem?

No comments:


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...