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Virgin Media uses Ricky Tomlinson to explain digital TV

LONDON - Ricky Tomlinson, who played 'Royle Family' couch potato Jim Royle, has been recruited by Virgin Media to front a campaign to boost awareness of the imminent digital switchover.

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The campaign, which goes live today, will be hosted on Virgin Media's website, where Tomlinson will be on hand to explain the benefits of the switchover, the impact it will have on analogue users and the variety of services available from providers on the market.

The campaign is aimed at consumers who are unsure of the ramifications of the switchover, which starts on 17 October. A PR drive by Virgin Media, including consumer PR activity using Tomlinson, will be used to drive consumers to the Virgin Media campaign site.

Tomlinson said: "To be honest, I was baffled by the whole idea of the digital switchover, but when I realised everything kicks off in October I thought I'd better get my act in gear. The online video explains in a fun way the different options available, giving handy tips and advice to help everyone get their head around it."

According to recent research conducted by Virgin Media, one in 10 people have never heard of the digital switchover, two-thirds said they were not prepared for the transition from analogue to digital and 15% have refused to replace their analogue TV set with a digital TV.

James Kydd, managing director of Virgin Media, said: "TV is changing so rapidly, it's not surprising consumers feel unprepared, but now is the perfect time to upgrade to digital and get to grips with the technology in time for the switchover. The online video will show just how easy it is to access and use digital TV and Ricky's humour and straight-talking approach really brings the issue to life."

Beth Thoren, director of communications at Digital UK, the body co-ordinating switchover, said: "With the first switchover just weeks away, we welcome this entertaining idea from Virgin Media to help increase public awareness about switchover. As a much-loved star, Ricky Tomlinson is the perfect person to reassure those who may be worried about switching and to convey the many benefits of digital television."

The digital switchover kicks off this month in Whitehaven in Cumbria. The old analogue signal will be switched off region by region, ending with London in 2012. A free guide to digital TV called 'Digital TV Made Simple' can be requested by phoning 0800 876 6889, or consumers can download a version from Virgin Media.

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