Two class society, the digital TV divide

There’s a news item today about the fact that Cumbria will be the first region in the UK to switch over from analogue TV to digital TV. The transmitter in Whitehaven will be switched over on October 1st 2007. The item on the TV news described the complete cock up by the government, in its attempt to help the ‘old and vulnerable’ to get their TVs sorted out with set top boxes. Basically, they will have to change the law because the Data Protection Act prohibits the Department of Work and Pensions giving details of the ‘old and vulnerable’ to the department that is going to help the ‘old and vulnerable’ get their TVs ready for digital broadcasts. The law will be changed several months after the switch over. Nobody will be surprised about this.

However, nobody seems to be bothered by the great chunks of the UK who can’t receive and digital terrestrial broadcasts however many set top boxes they buy. In fact, where I live in the Peak District, I can’t even receive analogue TV except for BBC1 and the reception is awful. Its better in the winter where there’s fewer leaves on the trees.

At least analogue TV is trying to get through. Some Digital Radio isn’t even bothering at all. My local transmitter in Chesterfield transmits at 6W, just enough power to not quite reach the edges of Chesterfield itself, let alone the rest of Derbyshire. Oxfordshire’s Beckley transmitter in contrast covers Oxfordshire, Berkshire and Buckinghamshire.

It looks as if the BBC might have to recommend that everybody use Sky, its main competitor as satellite is available to everyone.