Digital Switch



Viewers are to be consulted before the analogue television signal is turned off, the Government said yesterday.

The broadcasting minister, Lord McIntosh, has set up a panel of leading consumer representatives to "advise" on how the Government's plans for converting to digital television will affect viewers.

The announcement follows widespread criticism that Labour ignored consumers in its sweeping reforms of the broadcasting industry. It will also be seen as tacit acknowledgement that the take-up of digital television needs fresh impetus.

Lord McIntosh, making his first public appearance since succeeding Kim Howells as broadcasting minister in Tony Blair's reshuffle last week, said that viewers' concerns about digital television sometimes had been overshadowed by technical discussions on how to implement the switch from analogue.

The panel would include representatives from the Voice of the Listener and Viewer, the Consumer's Association, the National Consumer Council and the Royal National Institute for the Blind. It would "review the criteria" for the switch and have some input over its timing, Lord McIntosh told the Westminster Media Forum.