** CLARIFICATION **
In the broadcast of this programme on the 12th of June, it was stated that a SAORVIEW Approved combi-box and satellite dish would cost in the region of ¤150-200. This information was incorrect. Please see clarification below:
We apologise for any confusion this may have caused.
The digital switchover happens on October 24, 2012. That is when our analogue TV signal is switched off and we go into the Fully Digital Age of TV.
Some half a million Irish households still rely on the analogue TV service to access at least some of their channels - so they need to know that change is coming and how to prepare for it.
It may sound complicated - especially to the techno-phobic - however, if you arm yourself with the basic information and know which questions to ask - it is actually quite straightforward. Joe O'Shea joined us in the studio to explain...
SAORVIEW is a digital television service, owned and managed by RTÉ, which has been charged with implementing this switch from analogue TV to digital, as per EU rules.
It's a free to air service - which basically means, once your TV is set up to receive SAORVIEW, the service is free for life.
If you subscribe to Pay TV and are customer of Sky or UPC - you do not have to worry about the digital switchover (DSO) or analogue switch-off (ASO) as it is often called.
However, you could consider switching from a pay-per-month service to the free, SAORVIEW service, as long as you are prepared to downsize the number of channels you receive.
* SAORVIEW has ALL the Irish TV and all the RTÉ radio stations as standard. But there is now a set-top box on the market, which is SAORVIEW approved, that enables the consumer to receive free-to-air UK and European channels, the BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and so on.
There are two basic ways of getting free-to-air, digital TV; these are, upgrading your current TV with a decoder box or buying a new TV with an in-built decoder - but in all instances you will need an aerial.
First, you can upgrade your current TV with a decoder box. The basic SAORVIEW Approved set top boxes give you all 8 Irish TV channels and 10 RTÉ radio stations. These are available from your local electrical retailer, as well as chains including Tescos and Argos and either use an indoor aerial or rooftop aerial. If you already have a modern UHF aerial, you can use this for your set-top box, but be sure to check on this with the retailer. Basic SAORVIEW approved boxes cost about ¤60 to ¤80 and it is worth shopping around for the best deals.
If you want more channels you should think about a SAORVIEW approved combination box. This box has two tuners, one for SAORVIEW and one for satellite and gives you all 8 Irish TV channels and 10 RTÉ Radio stations, as well as hundreds of free UK and European satellite channels. For this option you will need an aerial AND a satellite dish.
There is currently only one SAORVIEW approved combination or "combi" box on the market, which retails at under ¤200. As more models are approved, the price is likely to decrease.
Be sure to carefully consider the channels that you would like to get as there is a substantial price difference. If you want to have all the UK channels as well, you need to get a "combi" box, if you are happy with just the Irish channels a standard box is fine.
There are cheap options out there - but to be safe - you really want to ensure that the equipment you buy has a "SAORVIEW Approved" sticker on the box - these have been independently tested and certified and you can be sure that they are fully compatible with all aspects of the SAORVIEW service
Another option, is to buy a new TV with an in-built decoder - these are known as "idTVs". All SAORVIEW Approved TVs are iDTVs and, on average, cost less than a non-Approved TV. Again - look for the "SAORVIEW Approved" sticker on your new TV.
You may well see non-approved set-top boxes and TVs for sale - and they may well work fine initially. However, if there are any changes to encoding or channels down the line - you may run into problems or even lose some channels.
***** Important Points
More information on the switch to SAORVIEW can be found at www.saorview.ie
Information on costings associated with satellite services including installation are available here www.saorview.ie/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/Consumer-SAORSAT-final.pdf
Information about finding a reputable installer can be found here www.saorview.ie/equipment/installers/