Communications Minister Pat Rabbitte, TD, has signed an agreement with national voluntary organisation The Wheel to develop and operate a nationwide outreach digital switchover programme to ensure no TV viewers in Ireland are without a service when analogue TV is switched off on 24 October.
The Wheel, in conjunction with voluntary and community organisations throughout the country, will roll out a countrywide Outreach Programme in April 2012, which will provide additional assistance and advice at community level to those who may find the move to digital TV difficult.
“When we launched our information and awareness campaign in October, I indicated that I would also put a national community programme in place to help people understand the move to digital TV, how this will affect them and to ensure that there is advice and assistance available to guide them to make the decision that best suit their needs," Rabbitte said.
Anyone who currently relies on an aerial to watch TV – about 250,000 households across Ireland – will need to take action before 24 October 2012 to retain access to TV services.
Guidance on the Digital Switchover is available online, through LoCall 1890 940 980 (English language) and 1890 940 970 (Irish language) and through information booklets which are available in post offices and Citizen Information Centres throughout the country.
The final countdown
A Millward Brown Lansdowne Digital Switchover Benchmark Study in November 2011 showed that 87pc of Irish people were aware of the Digital Switchover.
Between now and April 2012, The Wheel and its national advisory group will be busy ensuring that adequate personnel with the information and knowledge to assist with digital switchover are in place in every county in Ireland.
The advisory group consists of members of Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, The Wheel, Irish Rural Link, Age Action Ireland, GAA Social Initiative, Disability Federation of Ireland, Society of St. Vincent De Paul, Irish Farmers Association, ICMSA, Rural Transport Initiative and the National Network of Community Services projects.
“The programme is about reaching out to our neighbours within the community to ensure that they have the assistance and information they need to move to digital TV. My primary aim in establishing the outreach programme is to ensure that no one gets left behind after the switchover," Rabbitte said.
“In the next few weeks, information on the programme will be advertised and sent to voluntary and community organisations throughout the country setting out how they can get involved."