Improving Television Reception in South Thanet


It is well known in the area that South Thanet has terrible television reception.  Residents of Thanet still have to pay almost £150 a year in licence fees, but receive a below par television service. It is estimated that around 7,000 homes in Thanet are affected by sudden drops in signal, causing many to invest in expensive satellite systems.
“We have far too long suffered from bad to non-existent TV coverage in parts of Thanet and it is essential that before the digital switchover this improved.  People pay their licence fee and for that they expect a service”, said Laura.
An Overview of Reception Blackspots in Constituency

Thanet has for too long suffered from notoriously bad television reception. In the run-up to digital switchover, I campaigned hard at every level to secure us additional support. I took our TV signal woes to the very top, meeting with ministers and even raising it in the House of Commons.

I received multiple assurances that our TV reception would significantly improve come switchover but I committed to monitor this to ensure that things really did get better. Unfortunately there are still local residents experiencing problems and I believe that the current situation remains totally unsatisfactory.

I believe that there is a fundamental flaw in the TV licensing system when we all pay our licences  but do not all have a right to receive a signal all of the time.

If you've had issues with your signal over the last few weeks, I am told that the fine weather is probably to blame. Is it only me that finds this absolutely absurd? Why should we not have a TV system that is reliable almost all of the time- come rain or shine?

I am angry and disappointed that we are still experiencing problems here with TV reception and over the summer I've been taking our issues up with the people who can resolve them. We met with the BBC a fortnight ago and I am returning to the Minister to request his assistance. Following our representations, the regulator Ofcom are now reviewing our specific issues again and Sir Roger and I will be meeting with them before the month is out.

A solution must be found to resolve the problems that we are seeing. Everyone who pays their licence should be entitled to receive a decent TV signal and I'm actively taking this forward for local residents in order to find us a real solution once and for all.  

- Laura's View- Thanet Extra- 14th August 2013


   Sandys Calls Urgent Meeting on TV Reception

5th September 2012

Laura Sandys has a called an urgent meeting with the key players in the world of Digital TV next week. The meeting will bring Laura and her North Thanet counterpart, Sir Roger Gale MP, together with representatives from Ofcom, Digital UK and Arqiva. Laura has also written to the Minister to raise her concerns and will be reporting back to him following the meeting.


Laura said: “Following the Digital Switchover, I asked for feedback on whether local residents’ television reception had improved or not. I have received lots of positive responses advising that TV signal is now far better than it was pre-Switchover but unfortunately I have also received complaints and am acutely aware that there are still local residents experiencing severe problems with their reception.


“I am keen to get these issues rectified as a matter of urgency as it is unacceptable for any resident to be paying out for a TV licence when they cannot receive a decent signal. If you are still experiencing poor TV reception, please do let me know by e-mailing me at:  We are collating all this feedback and will be taking every complaint that we have received along to the meeting. I am very clear that we need a swift solution to this most frustrating of problems.”


Switchover Begins-Thanet Faces Greatest Challenges in Accessing Good TV Coverage in Meridian Region


Following two years of strong campaigning for improved TV reception and greater support for Thanet in the Digital Switchover, Laura Sandys MP is urging all residents in the area- the most vulnerable in the Meridian region- to ensure that they are ready for digital switchover which will finally begin on Wednesday next week (13th June).


Laura said: “There has been such a long build-up to Switchover and whilst much has been done to publicise it, I have spoken with lots of people who didn’t know that it was happening at all or just didn’t realise that it was finally starting next week. If you are already watching Freeview, you will need to retune your TV on Wednesday 13th June and again on Wednesday 27th June. Anyone who is watching analogue will need to convert their TV using a Freeview box as this signal will be switched off very shortly. Those watching Satellite meanwhile need not worry at all. There is still support available for older or disabled constituents through the Switchover Help Scheme- any local residents who think they might be eligible should telephone 0800 40 85 900 for more information. One-to-one general support will also be available on the two Switchover days in the form of a Digital UK drop-in advice clinic outside Tesco in Broadstairs.


“I have long been campaigning for better reception and even raised our particular problems in a Parliamentary debate. I have met with the Minister responsible on several occasions to discuss this and he pledged to ensure that everything is done to support us locally. I have also had lots of assurances that signal will dramatically improve for the majority of Thanet.


Over the next few weeks, I’ll be sending out some helpful information on Switchover as well as asking for your opinion on whether the signal has improved. If you would like to receive these updates please email me at: I would also ask all local residents to be in touch with me if they experience any problems either during Switchover or with their signal post-Switchover. I am on-hand and at the ready should there be any issues whatsoever.”


-      More information on retuning your TV can be found at:


-      Digital UK will be offering support outside Tesco on the High Street in Broadstairs between 9am-5pm on 13-14 June and 27-28 June.


Advice will also be on hand at Thanet Gateway, Margate on 13-14 June and 27-28 June.


Sandys Meets with Minister for Digital Switchover in Fight for Better TV Reception for Thanet


On Monday 21st November, Laura Sandys, MP for South Thanet and Sandwich, met with the Minister for Digital Switchover, Ed Vaizey MP to call for support to be put in place for those residents whose TV coverage might not be resolved by digital switchover.


The meeting followed Friday’s drop-in advice clinic in Thanet - which was organised by Laura in partnership with Digital UK - for constituents suffering with bad TV reception. Experts were on hand to offer guidance to residents over their particular signal difficulties and to indicate how their reception might improve.

Laura said: “As a coastal town close to the Channel, Thanet has long been plagued with poor to non-existent TV reception. Over the last year, I have made it my mission to ensure the situation improves with Digital Switchover. As we prepare for the end of analogue TV, I am adamant that the residents of Thanet must not face TV black-outs.”

“In our meeting, the Minister was left in no doubt of the severity and extent of the problem in Thanet. He gave his commitment to monitor Thanet’s experience with Switchover next year is examining all solutions  to remedy our local black-spots. New transmitters in Margate and Dover should improve TV reception, but we need to ensure all residents benefit from the digital age.”

If you are experiencing problems with TV Reception, please feel free to contact Laura so that she can offer support and advice. Please email: You can follow the TV Reception campaign through our website

Laura meets Ed Vaisey:





19th October 2011

Digital UK will be holding a drop-in clinic for residents with bad TV coverage on Friday 18th November from 9.30am to 12.30pm in the Council Chambers at Pierremont Hall, Broadstairs. This is the first of its kind in our area and will offer residents a range of experts who can help with existing poor coverage and explain switchover.

“Having campaigned hard to get the best support that we can in Thanet to improve our TV reception, I am very pleased that Digital UK will be giving face-to-face advice to residents who for too long have been receiving very poor TV signals.  I have been very clear with Government that reception must improve and that all the technical hitches that face us due to our location are addressed“ said Laura. “This drop-in event is part of the support on offer and I hope that many residents experiencing problems will take up this opportunity on the 18th November.”


Laura Sandys: TV coverage must be sorted and welcomes TV Reception support event for Thanet – 18th November

15th September 2011


Laura Sandys MP has been campaigning for many months to secure better TV coverage for all our households across Thanet.  “I have been working closely with Digital UK in the countdown to the digital switchover and today can confirm that there will be a drop-in advice clinic on 18th November for all constituents who are plagued by awful TV reception.


“The Government knows that we have particularly bad coverage following an adjournment debate that I held several months ago (Please see .) I even threatened to make the Minister watch the Olympics from Thanet if our reception was not sorted out.  Following this we have commitment from all the authorities responsible for TV and Digital coverage to address the specific areas where reception is extremely bad. Poor TV reception is a major issue for local residents and it is crucial that support is in place so that our TV screens do not go dark following switchover. I would urge anyone with TV reception problems to get in touch with me so that the right assistance can be put in place and we can ensure that the authorities have the right information about our predicament ."


The time and location of the drop-in advice clinic will be advertised shortly and Laura will be directly contacting all those who have been in touch with her with full details of the location of the Digital UK event.


If you know of anyone with a problem please ensure that they contact us on or through our website



TV Reception Plan Being Put In Place To Ensure All Get TV Coverage In Thanet And Sandwich

28th April 2011

Laura Sandys was very encouraged following the meeting she had with Digital UK in Thanet about the plans that are being put in place to ensure that all residents get excellent TV coverage following digital switchover next year.  “As so many of our residents know we have bad to no TV reception in some areas of Thanet and Sandwich, it is crucial that the switchover delivers a service that our residents deserve and pay for through their licence fee.”

“Following the adjournment debate that I secured in Parliament and some very useful meetings in London it was really good to have the Digital UK team in Thanet outlining their plans for the switchover.  I was very impressed by the comprehensive approach that they will be taking and I will be working with them over the next year to ensure that everyone gets good coverage. “said Laura.
Already all landlords with over 1000 properties have been contacted and Digital UK are supporting them in the switchover process. Digital UK will be providing additional assistance for the most vulnerable people in the community. The BBC Switchover Help Scheme is already providing assistance for the disabled, those living in care homes, and for those over 75. Additionally, Digital UK will be ensuring that other vulnerable people are provided with assistance through local charities.
“In the autumn I am very pleased that myself and Digital UK will be holding a joint advice surgery in Thanet to support those who want to ask questions about switchover and I hope that all those with TV woes will come along for some practical and expert assistance.”
Laura said: “Over the last year, I have been directly contacted by hundreds of constituents with television signal problems. There must be many more experiencing the same difficulties and others who are not yet aware that the switchover is coming.  I urge all those with problems to contact me so the right assistance can be put in place.  Email me at or write to me at the House of Commons, London SW1A 0AA.”
Sandys Calls for Minister to Address Thanet's Bad Reception 
20th October, 2010
Laura Sandys MP has held a constructive adjournment debate in Parliament with the Minister for Digital Switchover, to discuss the Government’s plans to ensure adequate television coverage in Thanet.
Laura explained: “I was very pleased that the Minister and his officials are spending so much time examining the problems that we face in Thanet with our TV reception."
"The Minister, who knows Ramsgate well having spent years visiting his Aunt and Uncle, now recognises the challenges we face in securing adequate signal.
“We in Thanet no longer want to be left at the end of the line or without signal. It is vital that our reception improves so that TV license payers get the service they need and pay for. ”
Laura pressed the Minister on what could be done now to support local residents to receive better television and radio coverage and to outline what would happen following digital switchover. She argued that one of the biggest challenges was to find a site for an additional TV mast in the Broadstairs area. With a suitable site then the Government will commit to investing in improving our reception.
The Minister praised Laura for taking the matter of poor TV reception in Thanet so seriously and stated: “We want as many people as possible to have access to a service which the vast majority of the population enjoy.
“I know that Ofcom is taking her concerns seriously, and earlier this week it carried out specific signal quality testing in the area...this will enable Ofcom to record the strength and robustness of analogue signals.”
Laura pushed the Government to finalise their assessment of the existing reception and to develop a clear strategy for the next few years. To discuss the options further The Minister agreed to meet in Thanet with Laura and his officials to discuss the options further.
To close, Laura joked with the Minister that if Thanet’s reception woes were not resolved, she would personally force him to join her and local residents during the World Cup in 2014 for an evening of “popcorn, moonscape and French radio” rather than exciting penalties and red-cards.

Related Speeches and Questions:


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