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Thursday, March 15, 2007

Whitehaven Digital Switch Over

Whitehaven DSO

Only 216 days to go before Whitehaven loses analogue BBC2 and 244 days before they lose the rest of the analogue channels. Whitehaven is the first area to undergo DSO (Digital Switch Over) on 17th October and 14-November and is in The Borders region. The wonderfully anoracky Transmission Gallery has a map of the main transmitters and relay stations in the Eastern Border region. For a historical version of how the old analogue system was built out see here.

There are five relay stations hanging off the main Calbeck transmitter: Whitehaven, St Bees and Bleachgreen, Gosforth, Eskdale Green and on the map there also appears to be a couple of self help masts for the richer remote communities in the Lakes.

As far as I am aware, the current plans were for some regigging of the muxes at DSO. There still be 6 muxes, but they will have different coverage: PSB1 (BBC), PSB2 (ITV/C4), PSB3 (BBC, Ch5 and S4C) and COM1, COM2, COM3 which will be the commercial multiplexes used for non-public-services. Two of the commercial muxes are owned by National Grid Wireless and one by SDN which in turn is owned by ITV.

All the muxes will operate at 64QAM initially at 2k but working towards 8k, which is different than today. By the completion of digital switchover in 2012 the PSB multiplexes will be broadcast via 1,160 transmitters while commercial multiplexes will be broadcast from 80 transmitters. By the end of 2012 the three PSB multiplexes will reach 98.5% of UK households (24.8m)—the same coverage the analogue television currently reaches—while all six multiplexes will reach 90.5% of households (22.8m).

It looks as if Whitehaven will just get the PSB mux content which includes BBC One, BBC Two, BBC Three,BBC Four, CBBC, BBC News 24, ITV1, ITV2, ITV3, Channel4, More4, E4, ITV4, Film4 +1, CITV, CBeebies, BBC Parliament, The Community Channel, Channel Five and Various teletext and interactive services. They will also be able to receive the following digital radio stations – BBC1Xtra, BBC Radio 5 Live, BBC Five Live Sports Extra, BBC 6 Music, BBC7 and BBC Asian Network.

If the Peter Lowther quote in today’s Telegraph is anything to go by the residents remain sceptical “They must think people round here will put up with anything because we put up with Sellafield."

Apparently, BskyB have already starting marketing heavily in Whitehaven and complaints have already been received about some of the sales spin. There is no Virgin Media coverage.