Digital still way off mark

Gov'ts aspirations to cut off analog signals in jeopardy, report sez

LONDON — A third of the world’s TV homes, almost 400 million households, will be connected to a digital signal by 2010. But this is not enough for many governments to meet their targets for analog switch-off.

By the end of 2005, nearly 30 million households will be digital, with U.S. penetration exceeding 50% and Western Europe at 31%.

This is according to new research conducted by U.K. business intelligence provider, Informa Telecoms and Media.

“The aspirations of many governments to cut off analog signals over the next decade are in jeopardy,” report author Adam Thomas says. “If digital conversion is left to the consumer, then there will be a core of digital obstinates.

“If governments try to push analogue switch-off through subsidies or even regulation, then they run the risk of legal action from pay TV platforms or consumer groups.”

Cable, predicts Informa, will be the main source of digital TV households, bringing in 230 million homes by 2010.

Satellite will be the next most popular delivery system, at 92 million. There will be 45 million homes receiving digital terrestrial signals and 26 million households receiving digital TV via the Internet.

However, 711 million homes will still take analog signals, 67% of households, by 2010.

U.S. penetration of digital will reach 91% by that date, while the rates for Europe and Asia Pacific are predicted to be more modest.

The U.K. has long led the pack on digital take-up and is expected to have 64% of homes signed up by the end of the year. Informa reckons Hong Kong will reach 65% by the end of 2005, overtaking the Brit digital penetration level.

The U.K. government plans to start turning off analog TV in 2008, completing the switch to digital by 2012.

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