Arqiva plans to mark the Digital TV services switchover in London with a spectacular light show on 18th April.
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 (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.