The city of Coulommiers near Paris is the first in France to make the switchover to digital TV as part of a pilot project ahead of the full national transition.

France Télé Numérique said 94 per cent of households in the city of 14,700 were equipped with at least one digital TV set 20 days before the switchover.

As the figure suggests – US authorities take note – a scheme to help people update their TV equipment from old analog televisions has proved very succesful.

The signal was cut by French minister of Culture, Christine Albanel, newly named Secretary of State for Prospective and digital economy development, Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet and CSA president Michel Boyon.

The digital switchover will continue in the other pilot cities of Kaysersberg (Alsace) and Cherbourg (Cotentin), where 200,000 people will be affected.

The process will then roll-out through 2010 with a completion date set for 30 November,2011.

Launched in 2005, DTT currently covers 87 per cent of the population but analog television is still a reality for 29 per cent of French households.

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