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It's 24 hours to blank screen if you haven't switched to digital

WITH just 24 hours to go until the analogue television signal is switched off, thousands of households are expected to be without a television service.

The analogue signal will be switched off at 10am tomorrow at which point anyone without a digital service will be unable to watch television.

RTE 1 will broadcast a short live programme covering the moment of the switchover and Communications Minister Pat Rabbitte will have the distinction of making the first speech to be transmitted on exclusively digital television.

However, with just one day left, his department does not know how many households will be left without a service.

The latest figures, which only go up to the end of last month, showed that 100,000 households were still relying on an analogue service.

A spokeswoman for Saorview said electrical retailers around the country have been rushed off their feet in recent days.

"We are hearing from the retailers we are in contact with that they have been very busy -- especially on the boxes, rather than the TVs.

"For people who have maybe bought the box but not got it set up yet, now is the time to open it," she urged.

She said setting up a Saorview box is "no more complicated that setting up your DVD player" and should not pose difficulties for most people. Anyone having trouble can contact its helpline 1890 222 012 (8am to midnight) for advice.

However online and mobile TV operator Aertv claims there are "hundreds of thousands" of households which have not bothered to switch over or who have decided to use different ways of watching programmes.

"It's not just about switching the main TV in the living room. It's all the other TVs in the home that are not hooked up to cable or the satellite," said Aertv director Philippe Brodeur.

Irish Independent