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Report finds some need help with digital TV

Older people and those living with disabilities will need time to adapt to using new digital television equipment, according to the finding of a trial conducted in Bolton.
The trial revealed that after four weeks, 74% of people reported problems with their digital television equipment, but four weeks later more than 80% of people reported no problems with equipment.
However, according to the report published today by Broadcasting Minister Shaun Woodward, the vast majority of older people in the digital television trial thought switching over was easy and liked watching digital television.
The study found that 98% of participants felt watching digital TV was better or the same as watching analogue and 93% thought the process of switching to digital TV had been easy.
But the trial also highlighted the importance of support from family and friends in installing and using the equipment and the need to give older and disabled people time to adapt to using new television equipment.
The Bolton trial, which started in July 2005, tested the process for supporting vulnerable consumers through switchover, assessing the costs and identifying and addressing any issues arising.
Over 400 households took part in the trial, all in the Hulton ward of Bolton. Reflecting the groups to be covered by the national scheme, each trial household was home to at least one person aged 75 or over or one person with significant disabilities.
The results of the trial, run jointly by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) and the BBC, also showed that:
  • 69% of participants were able to install equipment themselves or with the help of friends and family;
  • once their equipment was installed, 67% said they most liked the extra channels, whilst 20% most liked the improved reception;
  • 92% found the specially prepared and clearly written instruction booklet helpful.
Launching the reports, Mr Woodward said: “Seventy per cent of UK homes now have digital television, so we know it’s a product people want. And now we know they like it.
“The Bolton trial reveals that people who may need extra help making the switch become as keen on digital television as anyone else, once they have it. Ninety eight per cent felt it was an improvement on or as good as analogue viewing.
“The findings of this trial add further encouragement as we move towards switchover. It will be used in our work with the BBC to establish a nationwide targeted assistance scheme, ensuring that no one is left behind when we move to digital only television between 2008 and 2012."
The BBC will help establish and fund schemes to ensure the most vulnerable households are not left behind.
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