Get ready to tune in
Get ready to tune in
The switchover to digital TV has started and managing agents of properties need to be prepared for the change.
At the end of last year 25,000 households in the Cumbrian town of Whitehaven and the surrounding area had their analogue TV signal switched off for good. This was the first area to switchover to digital: the next will be for viewers served by the Selkirk transmitter group in the Border TV region, which will go fully digital from November this year. It will be followed by 14 switchovers affecting 4.6 million households during 2009, with the rest of the UK switching to digital TV by the end of 2012.
Whereas many individual houses are now prepared for the change, flats are usually dependent on a communal TV system and residents are in danger of being faced with a blank screen unless adequate provision is made ahead of the switch-over.
Since the launch of digital TV in 1998, many managing agents have upgraded communal TV systems. However, there are still plenty who need to check that existing systems are able to provide a digital TV signal to residents.
Many existing communal TV systems will need to be modified or replaced in order to receive and convey digital signals. Without this, a tenant's digital-ready TV will not work and people are likely to take matters into their own hands
Companies such as Sky can create bespoke communal solutions to suit all budgets including Shared Dish and Integrated Reception Systems. One dish serves the whole block meaning there is no need for individual mini-dishes.
Pascal Wharton, head of Sky Communal Solutions, said: "We know sorting out the TV system is just one of many responsibilities faced by landlords. That is why we've set up a dedicated website and team of experts who can advise on digital switchover and go through what systems are available. We have local specialists who know your area and are familiar with the buildings.
"We will help as little or as much as needed, whether to project manage a complete installation or carry out specific activities such as consulting residents or providing details of approved installers in your area. We will work with landlords to put together a plan of action that makes the whole switchover process as simple, hassle-free and cost effective as possible."
Langtons Wharf is a four-storey residential development in the Leeds.
The development was built in 1992 and comprises 67 flats spread across three separate blocks, linked by an underground car park. About half the flats are owner-occupied, and the rest are tenanted.
When Langtons Wharf was built, the developers installed a communal aerial and a satellite dish. But over time it became clear that neither was working well. Ironically, it was the building's desirable city-centre location that caused the problem - bigger buildings began to go up nearby, and TV reception, which was never very good, got even worse. Some residents were lucky enough to be able to receive one or two channels intermittently. But others could receive none at all.
Those residents whose flats allowed a direct line of sight to the satellite were able to put up their own mini-dishes, and many did so. But this just made it even more frustrating for those on the other side of the block and who had no such option. Meanwhile, the lack of reliable TV reception was depressing the value of the flats.
Last autumn, the residents' association asked their managing agents, Springhouse Properties, for advice. Springhouse recommended that they get an Integrated Reception System (IRS) installed, which would comprise just one satellite dish and terrestrial aerial for the entire development, with each flat wired to both.
This would allow residents to choose to access terrestrial TV, satellite TV, or a combination, and could also provide CCTV, enhancing the block's security.
Springhouse Properties arranged for three companies to quote and the one that was accepted was from installer Tel-Aer.
New wires into each flat were not required. All that was needed was a launch amplifier in a central position and multi-switches on each floor so that the flats would be able to get good TV reception in both their living rooms and main bedrooms.
The aerial and satellite dish were sited discreetly on the roof, and the firm also took down all the mini-dishes.
The installation took three days and has resulted in perfect reception - and some very happy residents.