LONDON, March 26, 2012 /PRNewswire/ --
Arqiva marks Digital switchover with spectacular light show on 18th April
- With Photo
The historic switch from analogue to digital TV services in London next month will be celebrated with a spectacular lightshow at the iconic Crystal Palace broadcast tower, Arqiva announced today.
More than 200,000 watts - 7.5 billion candlepower - of energy-efficient lighting, the same wattage used to light the Eiffel Tower in Paris, will illuminate the 219 metre tall structure.
Visible across London, the explosion of light will culminate with a beam of light shooting up the tower and radiating out over London, representing the invisible digital TV signals.
Arqiva, the company which has engineered the UK's digital switchover project (DSO), is installing more than 6 tonnes of lighting equipment on the tower in readiness for the light show at 9.15pm on 18 April.
The 7000 watt, billion candlepower search lights that will beam out across London weigh 100 kilos alone and are being installed 130 metres above the ground by a team of 20 riggers.
For more than 50 years the Crystal Palace tower has broadcast the best of British TV, from the first episode of Blue Peter in 1958 to last year's Royal Wedding, to more than 12 million people in the Greater London area and surrounding counties. With a coverage range of over 40 miles, it's the most important transmitter of the 1150 masts in the UK broadcast network and Londoners have been the first to receive many ground-breaking TV services that we now take for granted. Crystal Palace broadcast the first colour TV test transmissions in November 1956, with a regular colour service starting on BBC2 in 1967. More recently, in 2009, Londoners were the first in Europe to receive free-to-air terrestrial HDTV broadcasts.
UK broadcast transmission company Arqiva, will complete implementation of the digital switchover project in October in Northern Ireland. Alongside, Digital UK is co-ordinating a public information campaign to help consumers make the switch - http://www.digitaluk.co.uk/ .
In addition to the public lighting display, Arqiva is hosting a special VIP event at the foot of the tower to mark the switchover. Hosted by Chris Evans, the event will feature a rare appearance from Sir David Attenborough, who is celebrating his 60th year in broadcasting and will talk about the evolution of broadcasting during his lifetime.
Sir David Attenborough, broadcaster and naturalist, said "Thanks to public service broadcasting, for the past 75 years we could all take part in the most memorable moments in the UK's history. Think about the coronation of Queen Elizabeth in 1953 or England winning the World Cup in 1966. Now with the switch to digital TV, we're celebrating the start of a new, very exciting time in UK broadcasting when viewers will have more channels to choose from and a better viewing experience than ever before. This is as wonderful as anything I've experienced in my 60 years of working in the TV industry."
Chris Evans, TV presenter and BBC Radio 2 DJ, said "2012 is set to be a truly incredible year for Britain. Everyone knows about the Olympics and the Queen's Diamond Jubilee but this year also sees the completion of the largest broadcast engineering project ever seen in the UK. The switchover to digital TV is a momentous step for the broadcast industry. It's part of enabling a Digital Britain and gives everyone a greater choice of TV programmes than they've ever had before. The Crystal Palace transmitter is an iconic landmark. Lighting it up is a fitting tribute to the success of public service broadcasting over the last 75 years and a celebration I'm proud to be part of."
John Cresswell, CEO of Arqiva, said: "DSO is a huge team achievement, working with our Freeview partners, alongside Digital UK and Ofcom. At completion in October it will have involved more than 1200 man years of effort and the construction of five new TV masts, one the height of 70 double decker buses. In only five years, we have transformed this vital public service into a modern platform that is delivering the best of British TV into over 20 million homes across the UK and meeting the evolving TV viewing needs of the UK population."
Developments of the London Switch Over night celebrations can be followed via FaceBook (http://www.facebook.com/switchovernight) and Twitter (@switchovernight). Arqiva is also offering two people the chance to win a memorable helicopter flight across London and the Crystal Palace site, by entering its competition on Twitter.
Notes to editors:
- Arqiva's Facebook page will go live later this week
- You can download the image from our Flickr account at http://www.flickr.com /photos/arqivaswitchovernight/7016964619/
Digital Switchover -
This five-year, £630million project is the biggest in UK broadcasting history, covering 98.5% of the UK population. Region by region the old analogue TV service (five channels) is being switched off and replaced with a new high-power digital TV service (Freeview with up to 50 channels). Viewers can receive the new service through a Freeview-capable TV or separate digital set-top box. More information can be found at the Digital UK website.
To deliver the new service, Arqiva is removing more than 5,000 analogue transmitters from 1,154 sites across the UK, replacing them with 3,700 digital terrestrial TV transmitters. Many existing masts have been strengthened to support the new antenna systems and five masts have been replaced completely.
Arqiva, the communications infrastructure and media services company, operates at the heart of the broadcast, satellite and mobile communications markets. The company is at the forefront of network solutions and services in the digital world. Arqiva provides much of the infrastructure behind television, radio, satellite and wireless communications in the UK and has a significant presence in Ireland, mainland Europe and the USA. Customers include major broadcasters such as the BBC, ITV, BSkyB and the independent radio groups, major telco providers including the UK's five mobile network operators, and the emergency services.
Digital UK -
Digital UK is the independent, not-for-profit organisation established in 2005 to co-ordinate digital switchover alongside Arqiva. It is jointly owned and funded by the public-service broadcasters (BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5), and the digital multiplex operators (BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Arqiva).
Crystal Palace Mast -
The Crystal Palace transmission mast was built in the mid-fifties on the ruins of the Crystal Palace glass house. Built for the Great Exhibition of 1851 in Hyde Park, the glass house was moved to Crystal Palace in 1852 as a 'Winter Park and Garden under Glass'.
Alexandra Palace is better known as the site for early TV broadcasting in London, with services moving to the Crystal Palace site in 1956. However, Crystal Palace can trace its broadcasting roots back to 1933 when John Logie Baird moved his broadcasting company to the site.
The company built a laboratory and three studios in a 40,000 sq ft space in the south of the site. In 1934, Sir Harry Greer, chairman of the Baird company presented the company's annual report from the studio to a TV screen at the Annual General Meeting. The Baird Company studios were destroyed by a fire on the night of 30th November 1936 which, despite the efforts of more than 88 fire engines, saw the almost complete destruction of the glass house.
At 219 metres, the current transmission mast has been a feature of London's skyline since 1956. London's highest structure until the construction of One Canada Square in 1991, the mast will become the capital's fourth highest structure when The Shard takes the number one spot this summer. The Crystal Palace mast is unique for being the tallest free-standing lattice transmitting structure in the United Kingdom and often dubbed the mini Eiffel Tower.
The station broadcasts to an approximate 40-miles radius spanning the whole of Greater London and much of the surrounding counties.
Note to Editors:
A picture accompanying this release is available through the PA Photowire. It can be downloaded from http://www.pa-mediapoint.press.net or viewed at http://www.mediapoint.press.net or http://www.prnewswire.co.uk.