They're turning off analogue? It's news to us

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Millions of households are still in the dark about the Government's plans to switch off the signal for analogue television, according to a new report.

Almost half those questioned in a survey of 3,000 adults did not know that the Government will begin turning off the signal in 2008 to encourage viewers to go digital and free up the analogue spectrum for other applications, such as mobile phones. No TV set in the UK will be able to receive an analogue signal by 2012, so unless viewers have bought a Freeview box or subscribe to cable or Sky, they will not be able to watch television.

But according to the report from Continental Research, only 13 per cent of the survey sample correctly answered that the switch-off would begin in 2008.

A surprisingly large number of people did not even know that the switch-off would take place at all. Many of these were in the 25-34 age bracket, with only 68 per cent aware. More men than women were clued up on the switch-off, and similarly enlightened was the eldest age group, people over 65.

The report estimates that while more than two-thirds of all households have access to digital television, only four million (out of a total of 21 million) have converted all their sets.

Around two thirds of those yet to switch fully said that not all their televisions would be digital in time for the switch-off.

Report author Jon Beaumont said: "There will be a hard core of people who will be really angry about this when the switch-over happens. There is still quite a lot of ignorance [on the subject]."

The Government has set up a marketing organisation called Digital UK to promote the switch-off. Matt Lucas, the co-creator of TV comedy Little Britain, will star in an advertising campaign later this year.