The government's rather ambitious plans to switch off the analogue TV signal within five to 10 years were criticised by the Consumers Association yesterday as "fatally flawed".

A survey of almost 2,000 people's attitudes to and awareness of digital TV found many are worried it will cost them more and overload them with channels.

"[Negative] attitudes towards digital TV [will] cause problems in the long run," said Gareth Headon of the Consumers Association. The main fears are over cost. Just 29 percent of people knew they would still receive five free terrestrial channels once digital came into force.

Half those who were retired said they would never switch to digital and almost as many said that, once analogue is switched off, they only wanted to watch free channels.

"The government needs a digital switch-over policy that allows consumers to switch to digital easily, affordably and because they want to," said Adam Scorer, senior spokesman for the Consumers Association. "The study found a resistance to digital TV that should compel the government to rethink its plans for delivering [the] 'Digital UK' [plan]."

Around 26 percent of those surveyed had already switched to digital TV, primarily because of the extra channels. But the huge amount of choice was cited by others as a reason to stay away from digital TV.