Ruth Mitchell

UK leads the way with digital television

Digital TV will be watched in a greater percentage of homes in the UK than any other country by 2010. Around 95% of UK households will have digital TV, compared to 66% in the US and 50% in Germany, according to market analyst Datamonitor.

Freeview is predicted to overtake satellite by 2008 as the most popular way for UK viewers to watch TV, but the report also predicts that Europe will continue to lag behind the US in adopting high definition (HD) TV. This is due to a lack of interest in HD and the fact that the improvement in picture quality is smaller in Europe compared with the US, according to the report. The UK already has the world’s highest level of digital TV viewers at nearly 70%, while the US is second with 55% - but no other European country has passed 50%.

In the UK, most homes will have to switch to digital when the government turns off the traditional analogue television signal region by region. The switchover process will make it possible for almost every household to receive a digital signal via an aerial. The Cumbrian town of Whitehaven will be first to lose its analogue signal in 2007, with the switchover process due to be completed by 2012.

Minister for Industry and the Regions Margaret Hodge said: “Digital switchover will help the UK maintain its position as a world leader in broadcasting. It will also ensure today’s current terrestrial broadcasting network is replaced by the best technology available, digital.”

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