Consumers wasting money on analogue TVs

26 June 2008
A report has revealed consumers are still spending millions of pounds on analogue television sets which will be out of date in four years, following the digital switchover.

These figures come despite a £200 million publicity campaign funded by licence fee payers. The Public Accounts Committee, which carried out the report, says more should be done to "protect consumer interests". It also claims that confusion over the digital switchover is prevalent among many retailers.

Edward Leigh, chairman of the Committee, says: "Many viewers do not seem fully to understand the implications of the analogue switch-off and are still buying analogue televisions - unaware that they have built-in obsolescence."

Nearly half of the televisions sold in the first half of 2007 were analogue sets - all of which will need to be upgraded if viewers want to watch their favourite programmes after the switchover.

The report maintains that the digital tick label - the symbol used to identify sets that will work after the switchover - is still a "mystery" to retailers and consumers alike. It calls for more education so retailers understand and use the tick logo "to reduce the risk that consumers will unwittingly purchase TVs with inbuilt obsolescence."

Inadequate safeguards

The government also came under fire for not "taking adequate safeguards to secure value for money" in the scheme, with the report claiming that ministers let the BBC use £800 million of the public's money to pay for the public information campaign "without ensuring proper accountability for the way the money is spent".

Around four million homes are still without digital TV, said the committe, while another 26 million analogue TVs will be unable to receive a signal once the switchover occurs in 2012. Many consumers are continuing to buy analogue sets because they are cheaper than their digital alternatives.

Charity Help the Aged warns that, with many elderly citizens relying on their televisions as their main source of company, the findings of the report should be reacted to with haste.

Despite these concerns, take-up of digital television nationally and among groups eligible for the help scheme has exceeded the government's expectations. Of those aged 75 and over, 55% already have digital television, which surpasses the government's initial forecast of 42%.

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