TV viewers lose channels

The people getting Oxfordshire ready for next year's Digital TV Switchover are saying sorry to viewers who've lost some of the Freeview channels.

Work's taking place to remove and replace an antenna at Oxford's TV transmitter at Beckley.  A temporary antenna is being used while this work goes on but that means some people on the fringes of the coverage area have lost channels like ITV1, Channel 4 and Five and probably won't get them back until April.

Peter Montieth from Digital UK has been telling Heart: "I don't underestimate the irritation that causes and we've said we're sorry that that's happened but it is only temporary and the work is scheduled to be finished early in April."

Digital UK say they didn't warn people they might lose their signal because only a handful of people would be affected, and it's difficult to predict who that would be until the work begins.  They were concerned large-scale warnings would panic people into thinking they definitely would lose their TV signal.

The advice to people who've lost the affected channels is to switch back to analogue TV, which is still running in the Oxfordshire area.

Unlike with analogue TV transmissions, where if the signal weakens you will still get a fuzzy picture, with digital TV you are either able to receive a picture, or you aren't.  There is nothing inbetween.  That's why people who used to be able to receive the affected channels suddenly aren't.

A helicopter's been brought in to lift off the old antenna from the top of the mast at Beckley and replace it with a new one.  The work started on Tuesday 23 February 2010.

All analogue TV transmissions of BBC1, BBC2, ITV1, Channel 4 and Five are due to be switched off in Oxfordshire in 2011.  This will allow the power on the Freeview signals to be significantly increased.

Listen to our interview with Peter Montieth from Digital UK