Two days after the analogue terrestial TV signal was switched off for most of Copeland, it appears that several hundred people have been left without TV service.
It has been estimated that 96% of households in the affected area have converted but that 4% were unable to convert or did not do so in time. It is alleged that about 2% of households "did not want to convert" even though this meant they would be left without TV service: another 2%, or about 424 homes, have run into problems.
According to an article in the News and Star, it is believed that 178 people who applied for help with the change have been hit because of late applications, 82 people have yet to arrange for an appointment to have their homes and televisions converted and a further 164 are households who are Copeland Homes tenants living in flats and who have not been provided with digital service.
I am disturbed and surprised at the suggestion that there is a problem with this latter category. We were assured at the last two Full Council meetings that Copeland Council was working with various bodies including Copeland Homes for a smooth transition to Digital TV. In response to a question from myself we were advised last week that there had been some issues with Digital service and aerials but that they were being put right. We certainly were not given the least hint that television service for as many as 164 tenant households might not be ready for switchover. If this is true, it is disgraceful.
Neither do I buy into the view that it doesn't matter that 2% of homes have chosen not to go Digital. In the majority of cases, this will mean one of two things: either
1) They are not eligible for the help scheme and cannot afford to go Digital: in this case Switchover has priced them out of the TV market.
2) They are confused by the whole business and would rather lose TV service than put themselves through the hassle of dealing with it.
It is a good thing that most residents of Copeland can finally now enjoy the extra channels to which our license fees have been contributing for years. However, this has come at a considerable price in terms of money and disruption. The fact that hundreds of residents have been left without service makes matters worse.