Tyne Tees will switch off its analogue TV transmission at midnight tonight. The shutdown will mark the last region of the mainland to go entirely digital despite the obituaries written in April.
Exactly how the signal will be killed off is described in quite terrifying detail by the A516 Digital blog. The switch to digital TV necessitates some interruption to the existing Freeview service in preparation for retuning and upping the digital transmission power to fill some of the analogue space. The rest of that portion of the airwaves will be left fallow until next year, when the mobile phone companies get to bid for it.
One might imagine analogue TV had already been switched off back in April, when Arqiva sponsored a party at Crystal Palace and everyone from the BBC to El Reg reminisced about on-screen snow and the now-departed delights of Ceefax.
But that was the London switchover, which was timed late enough to ensure they'd be no hiccups in the rollout of the technology (the first site, Berwick-upon-Tweed in Northumberland, switched over four years ago) but not so late as to make Londoners think they were being left out. Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, meanwhile, will switch over on 24 October.
So right now, viewers in Tyne Tees can still get Ceefax and enjoy the graceful degradation of an analogue signal when reception falters - as opposed to the freeze-to-black provided by the digital alternative - but, sadly, only until the dying seconds of today. ®