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The big switchover: Rivals pounce on terrestrial TV viewers

Terrestrial TV is changing, and commercial rivals are continuing to pounce on unsuspecting, non tech-savvy viewers.

That was the experience in the UK during digital switchover where representatives of pay TV providers were caught using a number of false or misleading claims about what would happen to their TV signal to get customers to sign-up.

And that's the experience in Germany ahead of this week's switch to DVB-T2. Vodafone was slammed for sending householders an official looking letter that implied that the change to digital terrestrial TV would require householders to switch to Vodafone's cable TV network.

As reported by Der Spiegel and others earlier this year, letters were sent without any obvious branding, with the language of the letter and appearance of the envelope giving the impression that the householder was receiving an official notification. It even incorrectly referred to digital terrestrial TV as the "analogue television service DVB-T".

Sales staff even told callers that the terrestrial TV service would be switched off altogether in March.

After heavy criticism in the media and legal action by consumer protection agencies, Vodafone withdrew the campaign.

But other providers have been quick to jump on the bandwagon. While not resorting to misleading advertising, streaming TV providers have been running advertising, surveys and other publicity to highlight their platforms as a viable alternative to DVB-T2, particularly to younger viewers.

Streaming provider Zattoo claimed half a million viewers were planning to make the switch to streaming TV after the DVB-T2 switchover, according to a survey it commissioned last month. Even Amazon has been quick to point out that its Fire TV service carries all main German TV channels for users within the country.

With the UK's terrestrial TV service facing major changes in the coming years, it remains to be seen how rivals react and how honest their advertising will be. Vodafone, at least, is unlikely to repeat its dodgy adverts in the UK: it recently confirmed it has put plans for a UK TV service on ice.