Agencies line up for analogue TV switch-off brief

LONDON - A consortium of high-street retailers, broadcasters and telecom providers is approaching agencies about making Britons aware of the switchover from analogue to digital TV, which is scheduled to be completed by the end of the decade.

The multimedia initiative is expected to embrace above-the-line advertising, direct marketing and online activity.

With the switchover not due to take place before 2010, moves to put a communication programme in place are at a very early stage. At present, agencies have had only initial conversations and have not been briefed on the consortium's members. Second stage briefings are scheduled for the next few weeks.

Insiders believe any agency assignments will initially be limited to a campaign feasibility study, with advertising further down the line.

A brief to win over reluctant consumers to the digital revolution would help the government to achieve its much-publicised target of converting the entire country over to digital TV by sometime between 2006 and 2010.

Ministers have pledged they will switch off analogue only when 95% of UK households have access to digital and they are aware that a forced analogue switch-off could create consumer uproar.

Tessa Jowell, the culture secretary, has said that the 2010 target is "challenging but achievable" despite the collapse of ITV Digital and the unwillingness of consumers to sign up to multichannel TV.

Crucial to the success of any campaign may be the promotion of so-called DTT, digital TV through an ordinary TV aerial, which will have to "mop up" the bulk of viewers who have resisted multichannel TV.

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