§ 2. Mr. Derek Wyatt (Sittingbourne and Sheppey)
When she will announce the date for analogue switch-off. 
§ The Minister for Tourism, Film and Broadcasting (Dr. Kim Howells)
The criteria set for switchover are as follows: everyone who can currently get the main public 4 service broadcasting channels in analogue form must be able to receive them on digital systems; switching to digital is an affordable option for the vast majority of people; and as a target indicator of affordability, 95 per cent. of consumers must have access to digital equipment. The objective of the digital television action plan is to ensure these criteria are met so that we can, if we choose, take the decision to proceed to full switchover by ordering the switching off by 2010 of analogue terrestrial transmissions.
§ Mr. Wyatt
I thank my hon. Friend for that rather difficult reply, given that he said earlier that 80 per cent. of consumers would receive digital terrestrial, but 95 per cent. must get digital television. Surely there is some mistake there. We said five years ago that switch-off would be between 2006 and 2010. People buy a new television set every eight years, on average. If we are to plan switch-off now, that means 2011 at the earliest. It is important that we keep a digital smart economy ahead of the rest of Europe and of America. Can my hon. Friend be more explicit about when he expects the switch-off to take place?
§ Dr. Howells
I am sure that my hon. Friend, who I know is very interested in these matters, knows the difference between digital terrestrial signals and signals that can come via satellite or cable. There is a difference. That is where the 15 per cent. of which he spoke is made up.
I am sure that my hon. Friend will acknowledge that even though people are buying sets that are designed to receive analogue transmission, most of them can also be used with set-top box receivers, which enable digital signals to be used by analogue sets. I am sure that even my hon. Friend would admit that the 500,000 free-view systems that have been sold in the past four and a half months are a sign that there is a real appetite on the part of the public and that we shall meet the targets sooner than has been predicted.