There are fears chaos could ensue this June as up to 57,000 local homes are forced to retune their television sets due to Freeview channels moving to new airwaves.

The changes will begin at the Huntshaw Cross transmitter group after midnight on June 19 and Freeview channels will be kept off the air until 6am the next morning.

Freeview says retuning 'should be straightforward' and some TV equipment will retune automatically.

It says some older aerials may need to be replaced to continue receiving all channels and viewers may be eligible for free in-home support, including aerial work if needed, available via its advice line.

But Bill Gliddon, a retired television installer with 50 years of experience has told the Gazette he is concerned at the impact on local viewers.

He said: "On the morning when people find out they have to ring a number and they will decide if you need a new aerial.

"If you do, they will get someone to you within 10 working days.

"On the face of it, it's straightforward, but in all my years being in the trade this is a massive change. It's got to happen and we are the guinea pigs, they are working from Devon and Cornwall upwards."

The change is required by Government to prepare for the development of future mobile broadband services and is part of an engineering programme happening across the UK, region by region.

Freeview said Ofcom has estimated that less than one per cent or aerials across the UK will need to be changed.

If aerial work and a visit by an installer are required, Freeview will provide the service for free but it says it is not obliged to refund any costs if people choose to book their own installer.

South West electrical retailer HBH Woolacotts, which has stores in Barnstaple and Holsworthy, has geared up to try and offer assistance to customers.

It has as many staff on hand as possible and is offering a half price call out service to try and assist customers who are unable to retune their TVs manually or with over the phone assistance.

Nothing can be done until after the switch over, but anyone with concerns can visit www.freeview.co.uk/tvchanges and the Freeview Advice Line to call after June 19 is 0808 100 0288.