Almost one in five UK households now subscribe to digital tv, according to a new survey by the government regulator Oftel.
One third of these households have subscribed to digital tv without previously having had analogue cable or satellite services.
The UK was the first country to launch digital services on terrestrial, satellite and cable platforms. Digital tv allows more channels through more efficient use of the spectrum and broadband capabilities. As well as enhanced picture and sound, the technology allows consumers to access e-commerce services through the tv set and to interact through the remote control or keyboard – with email, internet, home shopping and online gaming as well as enhanced opportunities for education and information content and the delivery of government services to the home.
The survey reveals that the greater choice of channels that digital tv offers is the key incentive for take up, with fewer than one in five people using the interactive services such as home shopping and e-mail.
Those that had used interactive services rated them as good for ease of use, range of services available, speed and security, while just over 40 per cent of non-users said they were likely to use the shopping services in the future.
The survey also shows subscription to digital tv is greatest amongst the higher income groups (31 per cent), and is lowest amongst older consumers (10 per cent) and lower income groups (14 per cent).
Anne Lambert Oftel director of operations said: “Digital tv is still a relatively new medium in the UK, but the encouraging sign is that consumers are being attracted to it.
“The government aims to switch over from analogue tv to digital tv between 2006 and 2010 depending on availability, affordability and take-up, so these figures are a positive start.”
Oftel regulates operators who provide Conditional Access Services under the Conditional Access Class Licence. Conditional access is the technology by means of which access to Digital Television Services may be controlled, so that only those viewers who are authorised to receive such services do so. Oftel also has powers to regulate the provision of Access Control Services. Access Control Services control the supply to end users of certain other digital services. These services could include, for example, broadcast interactive services like shopping and banking through the television set.
‘Consumers’ use of digital tv’ is available on