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5th October 2009

More than 190,000 older and disabled people in the STV North region are entitled to practical help to switch over to digital television.

Today the BBC-run Switchover Help Scheme launches a television and print advertising campaign to raise awareness of the help available to older and disabled people so they can continue to watch their favourite television programmes after switchover.

The television advertising campaign, which will run on STV from this week, features 'Jean', a lady of nearly 80 and 14-year old Paralympic double gold medallist, Eleanor Simmonds.

The Help Scheme will also be running local and poster advertising campaigns, and Help Scheme events in the lead up to switchover. The Help Scheme is working alongside Digital UK and with local charities and organisations to spread the word.

People are eligible if they are:
Aged 75 or over;
If they have lived in a care home for six months or more,
If they get (or could get) attendance or constant attendance allowance, mobility supplement or disability living allowance,
Or if they are registered blind or partially sighted.

For a one-off payment of 40, eligible people in the STV North region will be offered:

Easy-to-use Freeview equipment to convert one television set,
Installation of that equipment,
An aerial check and upgrade if necessary, for people who own their own aerials,
A demonstration of how it works, and
Someone to call for help while they are getting used to it.

This service is free for people who are eligible and who also receive pension credit, income support, income-based jobseekers allowance, or employment and support allowance.

Alan Moore, STV network manager for the Switchover Help Scheme said: "Digital switchover is coming. We understand that for some people switching to digital can daunting, but we are here to do everything we can to make sure that no eligible people will be left without access to their favourite TV programmes. We will be writing to everyone who is eligible explaining exactly what help is available and what they need to do. The most important thing is not to worry - we will be in touch."

Those served by the Skriaig transmitter group covering Skye, Harris, North Uist, Benbecula, South Uist and parts of Barra will start to switch on 14 July 2010.

Those served by the Bressay transmitter group covering the Shetland Islands will be the first in the STV North region to switch over on 5 May 2010. Those living in the Orkney Islands served by the Keelylang Hill transmitter group will be next to switch on 12 May 2010; and those living in Caithness and north Sutherland served by the Rumster Forest transmitter group will switch on 2 June 2010.

People living in Lewis, Wester Ross, north west Sutherland and parts of Harris and Skye covered by the Eitshal transmitter will begin to switch on 7 July 2010.

People served by the Angus transmitter group covering Angus, Dundee, Perth and parts of Fife will start to switch on 4 August 2010 and the service for those living in Aberdeenshire will begin to switch on 1 September 2010 as the Durris transmitter group starts to switch.

Those people who live in central and southern Scotland will switch over later in 2010 and 2011.

Eligible people living in the STV North region will receive an information pack that will explain how they can get extra help to convert one TV in their home in time for switchover.

The information pack will invite people to apply for the help available. It sets out the standard offer which is available for 40, or free, as well as offering a range of other ways to go digital with the Help Scheme.

The standard offer in STV North is for an easy-to-use Freeview set-top
box to convert one TV set. Most households will be able to receive more than 40 Freeview channels through an aerial; approximately 20 of the most watched Freeview channels will be available throughout the region.

All options and prices are clearly set out in an information pack which will be sent direct to each eligible person's home.

To make it even easier, eligible people can choose to apply by calling the Help Scheme free on 0800 408 7654 or instead they can nominate someone else to make their application for them.

The Help Scheme is run by the BBC through an agreement with the Government, and has been designed around the needs of older and disabled people. Equipment has been chosen to be easy to use, and contact centre, delivery staff and installers have all been trained to understand and respect older and disabled people. Installers are vetted, carry identification and will never call without having made an appointment.

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