THIS week, the analogue television network will be switched off by RTÉ in compliance with a directive to free up space on the telecommunications spectrum across the European Union.
However, despite a major marketing campaign advising homeowners of the “digital switchover” there are fears that thousands of people across Limerick – particularly the elderly – may be left without a television service from next Wednesday,
Householders who have not already bought a SAORVIEW-approved television or set-top-box will not be able to watch television from 10am on October 24.
In recent weeks, every home across the country has received a notice in the post advising them what they need to do to continue receiving a television signal.
Local and national personalites from across the country have also been doing their bit to encourage householders to go digital.
Former Munster and Ireland rugby star, Peter Clohessy, says people need to act now before it’s too late. “Switch now, don’t get left behind,” he warned.
Annette Crowley of Ballyhoura Development is one of a number of digital champions for Limerick.
She is encouraging family, friends and neighbours of elderly people to help out if they can.
“While most people will make the switch themselves, some people may need a helping hand from friends, relatives and neighbours. These people are most likely to be older, live in rural areas and be more isolated,” she said.
Retailers across Limerick have reported a significant increase in enquiries about SAORVIEW in recent days.
“What people have to do is buy a SAORVIEW box, connect their aerial into the box and that converts the signal into digital and sends it onto the TV screen so basically it turns the terrestrial signal into a digital signal,” explained Sean Heelan of Fitzgerald Electrical.
SAORVIEW-approved set-top boxes range in price from between €70 and €100.
A combi-box, which will also allow users to view free-to-air satellite channels will cost around €30 more.
The roll-out of SAORVIEW will result in a better television service for homeowners than is currently available on the analogue service.
It offers viewers a better quality picture, better sound and the signal is less likely to be affected by the weather.
In addition to RTÉ One, RTÉ Two, TV3 and TG4 a number of digital-only channels are also available on SAORVIEW such as RTÉ’s rolling news channel RTÉ News Now, TV3’s sister-station 3E and RTÉ Jr.
RTÉ broadcasts some programming in high definition on SAORVIEW and both TV3 and TG4 will begin broadcasting in HD in the coming months
Existing SKY, UPC or AERTV customers will be not be affected by the switching off of the analogue signal at 10am on October 24.