In many countries, a simulcast service is operated where a broadcast is made available to viewers in both analog and digital at the same time. As digital becomes more popular, it is likely that the existing analog services will be removed. In some cases this has already happened, where a broadcaster has offered incentives to viewers to encourage them to switch to digital. In other cases government policies have been introduced to encourage or force the switchover process, especially with regard to terrestrial broadcasts. Government intervention usually involves providing some funding for broadcasters and, in some cases monetary relief to viewers, to enable a switchover to happen by a given deadline.
The switchover for individual countries varies; in some countries it is being implemented in stages as in India and the United Kingdom, where each region has a separate date to switch off. In others, the whole country switches on one date, such as the Netherlands, which switched off all analog services on 11 December 2006. Some countries have different switch off dates for each channel, such as China where CCTV channels 1-5 will be switched off first.
Almost all analog formats in current use were standardised between the 1940s and the 1950s and have had to be adapted to the technological innovations since then. Initially offering only black and white images with monophonic sound, the formats have had to be modified to broadcast in colour and with stereo sound, second audio program (SAP), captioning, and other information all while being backwards compatible with televisions unable to use the features. Additionally, engineers have had to implement these protocols within the limits of a set bandwidth and the tolerances of an inefficient analog format.
However, during this time, the application and distribution of digital communications evolved. Digital television transmission more efficiently uses the available bandwidth and can easily integrate other digital services. While analog video and audio broadcasts can not efficiently include other digital services, they have the advantage of greater area coverage because a degraded signal can still be usable to a fringe user while a digital one will just drop off.
For the end-user, digital television has the potential for resolutions and sound fidelity far higher than those of analog broadcasts. It is also possible to offer far more channels by way of digital multiplexing, and subchannels, distinct simulcast programming, from the same broadcaster. However, most free-to-air broadcasters do not have the finances to operate multiple channels with the same quality of content on all channels; also the more channels provided has the impact of decreasing the bandwidth available to the existing channel(s) meaning overall lower picture quality due to compression artifacts and non-proportional anamorphic widescreen digital scaling.
For government and industry, digital television reallocates the radio spectrum so that it can be auctioned off. In the subsequent auctions, telecommunications industries can introduce new services and products in mobile telephony, wi-fi Internet, and other nationwide telecommunications projects.
Impact on public-access television: decreased allocations available, expensive digital equipment cost replacement and lower broadcast area coverage due to digital drop-off.
The Geneva 2006 Agreement sets 17 June 2015 as the date after which countries may use those frequencies currently assigned for analog television transmission for digital services, without being required to protect the analog services of neighbouring countries against interference. This date is generally viewed as an internationally mandated analog switch-off date, at least along national borders. The European Commission has recommended that digital switchover should be completed by 1 January 2012 - Commission Recommendation 2009/848/EC, of 28.10.2009.
Netherlands moved to digital-only broadcasting on Monday, 11 December 2006, being the first country to do so. The switch-off was helped greatly by the fact that about 80% of Dutch households subscribe to cable systems, which continued to use analog distribution, and thus their old tuners continued to be useful. Like Germany, Sweden and Japan, the Netherlands still has a high number of analog cable viewers and therefore a switchover to Digital broadcasting is unlikely to happen in the near future.
analog closedown warning broadcast in Finland.
Finland ceased analog terrestrial transmissions nationwide at 04:00, Saturday, 1 September 2007 (the switch-off was previously planned for midnight on September 1 but a few extra hours were added for technical reasons). This was controversial, as the cost of a digital TV set in Finland at the time was heavily criticised and saw a substantial decrease in how much the television license cost. Cable TV viewers continued to receive analog broadcasts until the end of February 2008.
Andorra completed its switch-off on Tuesday 25 September 2007.
Sweden: The switch-off of the analog terrestrial network progressed region–by–region. It started on the island of Gotland on Monday, 19 September 2005, and was completed on Monday, 29 October 2007, when the last analog SVT1 transmitters in Blekinge and western Scania were shut down. Like the Netherlands, Germany and Japan, cable distributors continued broadcasting analog television. Cable broadcasters continue to broadcast in analog (like the Netherlands and Germany), so therefore a cable switchover is unlikely to happen in the near future.
Switzerland began with the switch-off on Monday 24 July 2006 in Ticino and continued with Engadin on Monday 13 November 2006. The switch-off was completed on Monday 26 November 2007. A very high percentage of Swiss viewers receive their signals via cable distributors. By 2012 40% of cable viewers have switched to digital. The government plans to shut off analog cable by 2015.
Germany started the switch-off in the Berlin area, beginning on Friday, 1 November 2002 and completing on Monday 4 August 2003. "Simulcast" digital transmissions started in other parts of the country in an effort to prepare for a full switchover. The switch-off of terrestrial analog transmitters was completed on Tuesday 25 November 2008, except one main transmitter in Bad Mergentheim, which was shut down in June 2009. analog satellite receivers were still used by 6% of households in 2010 - the highest in Europe. The analog satellite transmissions were switched off on Monday 30 April 2012, being the last in Europe. However, analog cable is still used by about 30% of the population and 55% of all cable broadcasts, so therefore a cable switchover is unlikely to happen in the near future.
Denmark switched off all analog services at midnight on Sunday 1 November 2009.
Norway: The switch-off of the analog transmissions started in March 2008 and was completed on Tuesday 1 December 2009. Norway started its DTT service on the Saturday 1 September 2007.
Belgium: Media regulations are under regional legislation. Flanders switched off analog television on Monday 3 November 2008, while in Wallonia, all analog services were switched off on Monday, 1 March 2010, making Belgium a country completely serviced by a digital signal. However, analog cable is still used by many cable subscribers, so therefore a cable switchover is unlikely to happen in the near future.
analog closedown warning broadcast in Spain.
Spain: The switch-off of the analog terrestrial transmissions was completed on Saturday 3 April 2010. The switch-off was successful, as about 70% of Spanish television transmissions are terrestrial, so it was easy for people to just switch to the digital signal. Spain started its DTT service on Wednesday 30 November 2005.
Latvia's analog television completely converted to digital broadcasting on Tuesday 1 June 2010.
Estonia's analog television was switched off completely on Thursday, 1 July 2010.
Jersey and Guernsey switched off their analog signals on Wednesday 17 November 2010.
Croatia: analog television broadcasts were switched off for all national TV channels on Tuesday 5 October 2010 at 12:35 and for local TV channels on Saturday 20 November 2010.
Slovenia: the switch-off on main transmitters was completed on Wednesday 1 December 2010. The last local analog transmitters were switched off on Thursday 30 June 2011.
San Marino completed its switch-off on Thursday 2 December 2010.
Luxembourg shut down their last analog transmitter on UHF Channel 21 on Friday 31 December 2010.
Monaco switched off their analog TV broadcasts on Tuesday 24 May 2011.
Austria: Began analog switch-off on Monday, 5 March 2007, progressing from the west to the east. The analog broadcast was shut down nationwide at the end of 2010 regarding the main transmitters. The last analog translators were switched off on 7 June 2011.
Cyprus terminated all analog transmissions on Thursday 30 June 2011 and moved to digital-only transmissions in MPEG-4 on Friday 1 July 2011.
Malta terminated all analog services on Monday, 31 October 2011. The switch-off was originally planned for Wednesday 1 June 2011 but was delayed for unknown reasons.
Portugal: Digital broadcasts started on Wednesday 29 April 2009. Portugal's government hoped to cover 80% of the territory with DTV by the end of 2009, and simulcasts remained until Thursday 26 April 2012, when the analog broadcasting ended. The switchover began on Thursday 12 January 2012.
Czech Republic: The last analog retransmitters in the south-east Moravia and the northern Moravia - Silesia were switched off on Saturday, 30 June 2012.
Italy: The conversion to digital television progressed region–by–region. It started in Sardinia on Wednesday 15 October 2008, and was completed on Wednesday 4 July 2012, when the last analog transmitters in the Province of Palermo were shut down.
United Kingdom: Digital terrestrial broadcasting began in the UK on Sunday 15 November 1998 with the launch of the ONdigital, later renamed ITV Digital and now Freeview. The transition from analog and digital to digital-only terrestrial signals started on Wednesday 17 October 2007 with the Whitehaven transmitter in Cumbria, and followed a transmitter switchover timetable, implemented by region. The first constituent country to switch off all its analog signals was Wales on Wednesday 31 March 2010 and the last region to switch off its analog signals was Northern Ireland on Wednesday 24 October 2012. analog cable broadcasts ended in January 2012, with Milton Keynes still relying on analog cable, which the town will not get an analog switch-off. analog satellite was discontinued on Thursday 27 September 2001, making the UK and Ireland the first countries in Europe with digital-only satellite.
Ireland: Digital television was launched in Ireland as Saorview on Friday 29 October 2010. At launch it had 5 standard-definition channels and 1 high-definition channel. The analog service was terminated on Wednesday 24 October 2012  and will be replaced by a second multiplex for Saorview. A small number of low power independent analog re-broadcast systems (often termed 'deflectors') on UHF are still on air in parts of Ireland and six remain licensed until the Monday 31 December 2012. There has been no date released for the shutdown of analog cable, and many major cable companies (e.g. UPC Ireland) are still actively offering analog. analog satellite was discontinued on Thursday 27 September 2001, making the UK and Ireland the first countries in Europe with digital-only satellite.
Lithuania: The switch-off of the analog terrestrial transmissions was completed on Monday, 29 October 2012.
Slovakia: Slovakia finished analog transmission broadcasts on Monday, 31 December 2012.
Gibraltar analog transmissions ceased in December 2012.
Macedonia: analog transmission terminated on Saturday, 1 June 2013.
Poland: The switch-off of the analog terrestrial transmissions was completed on Tuesday, 23 July 2013.
Canada: Canada's DTV transition was completed in 28 mandatory markets on Wednesday, 31 August 2011. Some CBC analog transmitters in mandatory markets were permitted to operate for another year, and transmitters outside mandatory markets were given the option of converting to digital, or remaining in analog. The CBC decided to shut down all (more than 600) of its remaining analog transmitters on Tuesday, 31 July 2012, without replacing them. Also on 31 August 2011, all full-power TV transmitters had to vacate channels 52 to 69. There does however remain a very small number of community-based transmitters; see Digital television in Canada
Namibia: Shut down analog signals on 13 September 2014.
Algeria: Digital broadcasting started in 2009, analog signals were switched off on 10 November 2014.
Kenya: analog switch off was supposed to take place in 2013, however media houses challenged the move in court and the switch off has since been moved to 31 December 2014 for the metropolitan areas and their surroundings while in the rest of the country the switch off will be in March 2015.
Israel started digital transmissions in MPEG-4 on Sunday 2 August 2009 and analog transmissions ended on Thursday 31 March 2011. Israel was the first nation in the Middle East and the first Non-European nation to shut down their analog signals.
Saudi Arabia started digital transmissions in MPEG-2 on 1 January 2003. analog satellite transmissions were switched off on Thursday 2 July 2009. The analog PAL was terminated on Monday 13 February 2012 and will be replaced by a multiplex for Nilesat. The government plans to shut off analog cable by 31 March 2018. Saudi Arabia was transitioning from using MPEG-2 to MPEG-4 for its terrestrial broadcasts, a process which began on Sunday 26 August 2012. Saudi Arabia adopted DVB-T2 on March 2013.
Example of analog broadcast termination notice screen in Japan.
Japan shut down all analog satellite and the analog terrestrial television in 44 prefectures at noon on Sunday 24 July 2011, while three remaining prefectures (Fukushima, Iwate, and Miyagi) that were destroyed or heavily damaged in the 11 March 2011 9.0 magnitude Tohoku earthquake and its related nuclear accidents stopped analog broadcasting at noon on Saturday 31 March 2012.Analog high-definition television broadcasting ended on Sunday, 30 September 2007. Like Netherlands, Germany and Sweden, analog cable continues to broadcast with a high demand too (25% of all viewings, which is known as Dejiana), but the service is scheduled to be terminated on 31 March 2015. Many television stations across the country have already begun broadcasting simultaneously in digital, beginning on Monday 1 December 2003 in the Kanto region and spreading to the other six regions by the end of analog high-definition television broadcasting.
Qatar started digital transmissions in MPEG-2 on Tuesday 1 January 2002. analog satellite transmissions were switched off on Thursday 2 July 2009. The analog PAL was terminated on Monday 13 February 2012 and will be replaced by a multiplex for Nilesat. The government plans to shut off analog cable by 31 March 2018. Qatar was transitioning from using MPEG-2 to MPEG-4 for its terrestrial broadcasts, a process which began on Sunday 26 August 2012. Qatar adopted DVB-T2 on January 2013.
Taiwan: Digital television launched terrestrially throughout Taiwan on Friday, 2 July 2004. analog television ended transmission on Saturday 30 June 2012. However, the process was completed in 2014, when the analog cable television shut down.
South Korea: Digital switchover progressed region–by–region, with the first analog transmitters in Uljin, North Gyeongsang Province ending transmissions on Wednesday, September 1, 2010. Digital switchover was completed on Monday, December 31, 2012, when the last analog transmitters in Gyeonggi Province and Seoul ended transmissions. However, the South Korean government still maintains a few border analog transmitters which target North Korea; however they will be switched off on June 2015.
United Arab Emirates started digital transmissions in MPEG-2 on Thursday 20 January 2005. analog satellite transmissions were switched off on Thursday 2 July 2009. The analog PAL was terminated on Monday 13 February 2012 and will be replaced by a multiplex for Nilesat. The government plans to shut off analog cable by 31 March 2018. United Arab Emirates was transitioning from using MPEG-2 to MPEG-4 for its terrestrial broadcasts, a process which began on Sunday 26 August 2012. United Arab Emirates adopted DVB-T2 on February 2013.
Vietnam: The country launched DVB-T unofficially in 1997, and shut down all analog signals for good on 28 May 2014.
Iran commenced broadcasting digital TV in 2009, using the DVB-T MPEG-4 standard, with 40% of population having access to digital TV by mid-2011. The switch over to digital TV was completed on 19 December 2014, when all analog signals were terminated.
Brunei: The country switched off analog TV on 1 January 2015.
Cambodia launched DVB-T2 on Tuesday, 9 November 2010, transition started in 2012 and finished on January 1, 2015.
New Zealand: digital terrestrial television broadcasts began officially in April 2008. analog PAL switchoff started on 30 September 2012 with the North Island's Hawke's Bay region and the South Island's West Coast region and finished with the Upper North Island which was switched off 1 December 2013.
Australia: Digital television commenced in Australia's five most populous cities on Monday 1 January 2001. The Mildura region was the first to terminate its analog network, on Wednesday 30 June 2010. Digital switchover was originally expected to be complete by Tuesday 31 December 2013, however the last regions to switch over (Melbourne and Remote Eastern/Central Australia) did so slightly earlier, on Tuesday 10 December 2013 at 9:00 am. Until the switch-off in the respective areas, free-to-air stations were simulcast, along with digital-only channels like ABC2. Cable television networks began simulcasting in 2004 and analog cable services were switched off in April 2007. The switchover was co-ordinated by the Digital Switchover Taskforce operating under the federal Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy.
Serbia launched its first DTT transmissions in 2005. The first DTT-only channel was made available in 2008. The deadline for the transition to digital has been moved from April 4, 2012 to June 17, 2015. As of 2013, the initial DVB-T2 network covers Belgrade and much of Vojvodina, several cities in Šumadija and Western Serbia and the southern city of Niš. Digital TV switchover for 98% of citizens started on September 1, 2014. Transition will progress in three stages of analog switchoff.
Turkey launched trial digital transmissions in 2006 and originally planned to gradually handle the switchover, with a scheduled completion date of 2015. It will be completed on March 3, 2015.
Ukraine: analog switch-off will take place in four stages. The first phase of analog switch-off will start on June 15, 2015. Analog broadcasting will be completely turned off December 31, 2016.
Argentina: Digital television broadcasts started on Tuesday, 9 September 2008 in Buenos Aires. The analog network will be terminated on 1 September 2017.
Bolivia: Started on Tuesday, 20 July 2010, it will be completed on 1 September 2017.
Brazil: Began free-to-air HD digital transmissions, after a period of test broadcasts, on Sunday, 2 December 2007 in São Paulo, expanding in 2008 to Brasília, Rio de Janeiro, and Belo Horizonte. Digital broadcasts were phased into the other 23 state capitals in the following years, and to the remaining cities by Tuesday 31 December 2013. analog and digital simulcasts were scheduled to continue until Wednesday, 29 June 2016, supposedly to coincide with the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, when analog would be discontinued. The main broadcasters (Globo, Record, Band, SBT and RedeTV!) are simulcasting in analog and digital, in standard definition and 1080ihigh definition. However, in 2013, the government announced that analog broadcasts will end in 2018 instead of 2016. In July 10, 2014, the Brazilian Ministry of Communications released a timetable for phasing out analog TV signals, starting in November 29, 2015 in Rio Verde, Goiás as a pilot experiment, followed by state capitals, the Federal District and main cities and regions from April 3, 2016 to November 25, 2018, when it is expected the ending of all analog television broadcasting.
Chile: The transition to digital started in 2012, and the switch-off is scheduled for 31 December 2016.
Mexico: Digital broadcasts commenced in 2000, with the first being Tijuana's XETV - an English-language affiliate of The CW serving primarily San Diego, California. analog shutdown was originally scheduled to occur in 2021, but on Thursday, September 2, 2010, Mexican president Felipe Calderón, in its Fourth Report of the Government, advanced the analog shutdown from 2021 to 2015. Groups of cities which are required to simulcast digitally are added in descending order of size, with full coverage of the smallest centers required by 2015. The digital switchover, which will progress region–by–region, was to begin on Tuesday, May 28, 2013 in Tijuana, but was postponed to July 18 due to the 2013 Baja California state elections. Switchover is scheduled to be completed on December 31, 2015.
Paraguay: The transmission of digital television broadcasts started on August 2011, by TV Pública (which belongs to the Paraguayan government) with an initial coverage area of 25 kilometres (about 16 miles) from Asuncion downtown. The analog television system switch-off is estimated to be completed on Tuesday, 1 September 2017.
Peru: Digital television broadcasts started in Lima in March 2010, and analog broadcasts are scheduled to be terminated on 1 September 2017.
United States: On Monday, 8 September 2008, Wilmington, North Carolina became the first city in the United States to fully switch over from analog to digital broadcasts. All analog signals were terminated at noon. This switchover was a test by FCC to make further improvements to the transition process before the whole nation was switched over to digital. Having moved the deadline from Tuesday, 17 February 2009 (some stations still chose to shutdown on that date), all VHF transmissions (stations 2–13) and most full-power UHF analog transmitters were shut down on Friday, 12 June 2009, with the exception of "nightlight" analog stations (which broadcast a video on how to set up a digital TV or purchase a DTV set-top box) and LPTV transmissions. "Nightlight" broadcasts were shut down on Friday, 26 June 2009. Television transmission on channels 52 to 69 was required to cease by Saturday, 31 December 2011, to allow FCC to commence with the first phase of VHF/UHF TV spectrum allotment for other services. LPTV transmitters (primarily low-powered (LP), and Class-A low-powered (-CA) stations, and also broadcast translator (TX) translator/repeaters in rural communities) will be forced to convert to digital by Tuesday, 1 September 2015.
China: analog in CCTV1 to CCTV5 was terminated on 31 January 2014 at 12:00 AM. analog services on CCTV6-CCTV10 were terminated on 22 November 2014. Other channels that will terminate analog broadcasts will follow this schedule: 12 July 2015 (CCTV11-CCTV16), 14 May 2016 (CCTV17-CCTV21), 17 August 2016 (CCTV22-CCTV27), 31 December 2016 (CCTV28-CCTV32), 25 May 2017 (CCTV33-CCTV36), and 1 January 2018 (CCTV37-CCTV45). The last date will mark the switchover to digital broadcast.
Hong Kong's analog broadcasting was planned to be switched off by 2012. However, it has been postponed until the end of 2015.
Indonesia: Digital switchover has been postponed to 2021.
Malaysia: The first roll-out of DTTB services were rolled out on 16 January 2014, for a start in a few test areas, while full nationwide coverage to an estimated 98% populated areas is slated by the end of the analog-digital simulcast period. It is expected that Malaysia will terminate analog signal in 2017.
Singapore launched digital terrestrial television under MediaCorp in January 2009. The rest of the analog signals will be switched off in 2018. analog broadcasting through StarHub was discontinued on Tuesday, 30 June 2009.
Thailand launched digital terrestrial television in May 2014 after postponed for 12 years. Analog signals will be switched off in 2020.
After the switch from analog to digital broadcasts is complete, analog TVs will be incapable of receiving over-the-air broadcasts without the addition of a set-top converter box. Consequently, a digital converter box – an electronic device that connects to an analog television – must be used in order to allow the television to receive digital broadcasts. In the United States, the government subsidized the purchase of such boxes for consumers via their coupon-eligible converter box program in 2009, funded by a small part of the billions of dollars brought in by a spectrum auction. The program was managed by the Department of Commerce through its National Telecommunications and Information Administration.