Counting down the days to the dreaded switchover

One glance at my front room (I don’t know why I call it that when it’s the only room and it’s actually at the back) tells anyone that I haven’t wholeheartedly embraced the latest innovations in TV technology.

And now the government proposes to turn off the analogue signal and force us all to switch to digital. What will this mean for me and any other Luddites who resent and resist unnecessary expenditure because we’re perfectly content with what we’ve got?

I’m talking about the people who don’t bother to keep up with colleagues in the office, ostentatiously flick through photos on their superphone or try to impress their mates at the gym by purchasing the newest gadget nanoseconds before them. Who don’t feel the need to demonstrate the latest ‘app’, allowing them to scan barcodes on food items to work out how many calories these contain (instead of reading the packet information) or one telling them when the kettle has boiled (it takes a whole two minutes, one and a half minutes longer than the average attention span these days) or play noughts and crosses (what’s wrong with pen and paper?).

It seems to me that most of these innovations are pretty pointless and of little real benefit to anyone; and that certainly also seems to be the case when it comes to the digital switchover. But worse than that, it’s actually going to leave people with a poorer service than the one we currently experience.

At the moment I have a TV, basic freeview digital box, VCR and dvd player.

With this archaic equipment, I am able to video an analogue programme while watching something else on digital or another analogue channel. Or video digital programmes while watching analogue. If I go out or on holiday I can video something on any or all of the analogue channels as well as a show on a digital channel, provided that they are not on at the same time.

But come April, this all ends. My options are drastically reduced. Basically, it seems that, unless I invest in an upgraded digibox (don’t even let me get started on Sky) or digital TV recorder (costing between £100 and £200), I’ll only be able to video the single channel that I’m watching. What’s the point of that? How is that progress when it’s so much less versatile than what it replaces? Talk about regressive technology.

Unsurprisingly, given this, digital hasn’t been an easy sell for the government and it’s taken a lot longer to implement than the people in grey thought it would. Maybe because few of us are that interested in what’s basically a downgrading of what we already own.

Of course nowadays it’s all about conspicuous consumption. Products are made to become obsolete almost as soon as they’ve left the shelves. If you don’t play along, you’re viewed with intense suspicion. Why pay £50 to get an old TV fixed? Why not just invest in a new set and chuck the old one?

Today I received (along with every household in the UK) another leaflet purporting to be a guide to switchover. How much does all this cost? (There are also 400 face-to-face advisory events in the London area alone – you need to access details of these on the web so bad luck if you’re not online and therefore likely to prefer a face to face.) But I’m interested to read the answer to ‘Why is switchover happening?’

Switchover is happening so that Freeview services … can be extended to people who can’t currently get them … .

Oh my God, is this really the reason? What a pathetic justification for a huge upheaval. How many people who actually want freeview services are unable to get them? And wouldn’t it be simpler, cheaper, not to mention far less hassle, to boost the signal to reach those people? Instead of imposing this unwanted and unwarranted change on everyone in the land?



2 responses »

  1. Phil Gooch says:

    Sarah’s not happy about the switchover either! But, to be honest, we only really watch BBC4 anyway. And if you miss a program, you can catch it on iPlayer, rather than having to remember to record it.

    My brother found a DVD recorder with built-in freeview in a skip – it works perfectly and we use that to record from freeview while watching another channel. You can probably get one on ebay for 20 quid.

    • Thanks for reading. I know – we’re all trying to find ways round it but I don’t see why it has to happen. We should have been consulted about it, not just had it imposed on us.

      We only watch BBC4 too. BBC digital used to show the Australian Open and French Open but they’re not even doing that this year.

      If your brother finds another one …

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