Countdown to Tyne Tees switchover stage 1

Satellite view of the Tyne Tees region with main transmitter locations
Map (c) Google
Switchover stage 1 is expected to commence in the Tyne Tees region after 00:20am tonight, with BBC Two analogue going off air for the final time.

In line with other digital switchover events in the UK, the switchover process usually starts once BBC Two has reached a "programme junction", rather than switching off mid-programme. It has often been the first such "junction" after midnight.

All TV services broadcast from the affected transmitters are likely to see breaks in transmission during the related engineering work that needs to take place overnight.

Although overnight engineering work may affect all kinds of service, only BBC digital services on Freeview are actually changing in this first stage of switchover. BBC standard definition services will be boosted in power and transmitted on a new multiplex, called BBC-A or PSB1.

Commercial services remain at low power on digital, and BBC One, ITV1 Tyne Tees, Channel 4 and Channel 5 analogue will remain on air until stage 2, which starts just after midnight on 26th September. Freeview HD will not become widely available until stage 2. Until then, the HD services are confined to households receiving direct from the Pontop Pike transmitter in the Newcastle/Sunderland area.

All three main transmitters serving the region (Bilsdale, Chatton, Pontop Pike) will be up and running again with full power digital services from the BBC by 6am on Wednesday. Viewers on relay stations will need to wait until later on Wednesday. Kielder relay, for example, is scheduled to complete stage one by mid-afternoon, once engineers have visited the site.

At relays, the digital Freeview service has previously not been available, so that with the switching off of BBC Two analogue and the launch of a digital multiplex containing BBC channels, Freeview will start to become available for the first time in many rural areas served by a relay. Affected viewers will be able to test their new Freeview equipment to ensure that their set up (including aerial) is suitable before all remaining ananlogue signals are switched off in two week's time.

Viewers receiving from the main transmitters, who already have Freeview, will need to retune on Wednesday morning, or as soon as possible thereafter. Those in the south of the Tyne Tees region, and into North Yorkshire may be able to receive signals from Emley Moor transmitter in West Yorkshire, which already completed switchover and went full power last year. If reception from multiple transmitters is possible, viewers may find services duplicated from channel 800 on their Freeview receiver.

TV's attached to satellite or cable services are not affected by the digital switchover. However, if any secondary sets in satellite and cable households rely on an aerial feed, these will need to be ready for the switchover.

Help can be obtained from Digital UK, who are holding events in Newcastle, Sunderland and Middlesborough on the 12th and 13th September to assist consumers. Their helpline will be fully staffed on both switchover stage dates and available on 08456 505050. Alternatively, the Digital UK Tyne Tees pages online can be reached by going to: http://www.digitaluk.co.uk/when_do_i_switch/tyne_tees

  Transmitter Technical information - including UHF frequencies:
http://www.a516digital.com/2012/09/tyne-tees-switchover-technical.html
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