An update on our efforts to restore services following the incident at the Bilsdale mast
Dedicated website now live
We have a dedicated website for updates from Arqiva on the Bilsdale Mast: Project Restore. No further updates will be posted on this site. For the latest information, help and support for people in the Bilsdale Mast transmission area visit BilsdaleMast.co.uk
Temporary mast goes live
A new, 80-metre temporary mast at Bilsdale has been switched on. It will restore TV services to approximately 95% of households across the region. Our engineers have worked around the clock over recent weeks to deliver this as the latest step in restoring services following the fire at Bilsdale in August.
Fire-damaged Bilsdale Mast safely brought down
- Latest step in response to August fire
- Safety of on-site staff of primary importance
- Video footage available on our YouTube channel
North Yorkshire, UK, 06 October 2021: Arqiva, the company which owns and operates the Bilsdale mast, has confirmed that the 314m structure, which was damaged by a fire on the 10th August resulting in the loss of television and radio services in the area, was safely felled in a controlled demolition earlier today.
Following comprehensive investigations, the 500-tonne structure was considered beyond repair. As a result it was brought down by a specialist team using controlled detonations in order to preserve sections for the continuing forensic investigation into the cause of the fire.
The mast was built in 1969 and has provided TV and radio services to North Yorkshire, the Tees Valley and County Durham ever since.
The direction of dismantling was specifically chosen to minimise the impact on the surrounding environment. Arqiva will also ensure the moorland is restored fully, whilst also taking specific measures to minimise the impact of the clean-up activity.
As the damaged mast was deemed unsafe, an exclusion zone was set up in a two-kilometre circumference around it as part of the dismantling operation. Today’s dismantling work was not publicised in advance to ensure safety and minimise the risk to those involved in the dismantling.
A temporary, 80-metre tower close to the original mast is currently nearing completion which will restore TV services to more than 90% of households across the region. Arqiva is also setting up an online hub which will provide up-to-date information on help and support for priority groups affected by the loss of TV services, including how to retune or repoint your TV. It will be found at bilsdalemast.co.uk
Images and video from the demolition operation will be available later today from Recognition PR. This will include an interview with Keith Frost, Director of Operations at Arqiva.
Adrian Twyning, Chief of Operations at Arqiva, commented: “Safety is our number one priority and once we had clearance to fell the mast, and identified a suitable weather window, we acted quickly.
“The site is on remote moorland, and there is around 2km of perimeter that we have to secure before the mast could be brought down. This mast has been a part of the landscape in this area for decades, and we continue to work hard to restore TV services to those people affected by the fire.”
Arqiva Chief Executive updates on temporary mast coverage
Whitby, UK, 04 October 2021: The chief executive of Arqiva, the operator of Bilsdale Mast, today set out more details of which areas across North Yorkshire and the North-East will benefit from a temporary TV mast being switched on, and which places will require further help and support.
Speaking to the media in Whitby, Paul Donovan said that once the temporary mast is switched on later this month it will reveal which addresses still do not receive a signal. Additional, smaller, relay towers will then be built at identified sites to help fill in these so-called “not spots” of TV coverage.
Mr Donovan showed maps of the estimated not-spots. More than 90% of households will have had their TV services restored following the switch-on, but some coastal and Dales areas in North Yorkshire and County Durham are likely to be amongst the places where services are not restored by the temporary mast and where further measures will be required.
Arqiva announced on Friday that testing and switching on the temporary mast, close to the site of the original Bilsdale Mast, which was damaged by fire on August 10th, had been delayed due to bad weather. The aim – depending on the weather - is now for the mast to go live between October 13th and the 19th. More details will follow on what viewers need to do once the switch on takes place.
Arqiva is working with local authorities, housing organisations and charities on Project Restore to get TV services back for those affected, and to prioritise specific groups. People over 65, those with disability, and socially vulnerable groups will receive priority help.
A new call centre will provide support and advice, and an engineer will visit homes through scheduled visits if required for those in the priority groups. For those unable to receive a signal we will provide a selection of options, for example including Freesat TV.
A new, online hub offering support and information to those affected – including how to retune or re-point antennae - will be available later this week at bilsdalemast.co.uk
Arqiva CEO Paul Donovan said: “We’re sorry that bad weather has pushed back the go-live date for the temporary mast. Safety of our staff is paramount. Once it is switched on, services will be restored for many thousands of people.
“We’re working hard on alternative plans to help those who don’t benefit from that, including here on the coast and in the Dales of North Yorkshire and County Durham, and some other areas. We’re absolutely committed to restoring services as quickly as we can, and to prioritising those in our communities who need help the most.”
Bad weather delays switch on of temporary Bilsdale mast
Arqiva today announced that poor weather conditions have forced a delay in switching on the new, temporary mast at Bilsdale.
A 100-strong team using helicopters have been working around the clock on the temporary mast, which is 80 metres tall, over recent weeks, and the building of the mast itself has been completed. However high winds, low cloud and heavy rain in recent days have forced a delay to the proposed switch on date next week.
The final installation work, checks and tests require good visibility and line of sight from the ground, while rain and winds above 20mph make it dangerous for workers to climb to heights and to lift equipment into place. Power lines and feeder cables to the antenna must be installed, and equipment has to be kept dry as it is fitted together to ensure safety.
As the safety of our staff is the most important factor, the weather has unfortunately forced a delay. Our aim is to complete all work, carry out the required checks and tests, and switch on the temporary mast to restore TV services for thousands more people in the period of October 13th to the 19th – again, dependent on the weather. We will provide more details in a media briefing in North Yorkshire on Monday.
The temporary mast will restore services to more than 90% of households across the region which has been affected by the fire at the main Bilsdale Mast on August 10th. Work to dismantle the old, fire-damaged mast will begin soon.
Arqiva this week set out plans – working with local authorities, housing associations and charities - to support and help those who will still not receive a service as a result of the switch on of the temporary mast. Called Project Restore, the priority focus will be on over 65s, and clinically vulnerable and vulnerable people affected. A new website will carry information and updates for those affected and their families and friends to find out more.
Adrian Twyning, Arqiva’s Chief of Operations, visited the site on Friday afternoon to meet the team, see progress and view conditions.
He said: “The team have been working tirelessly since we broke ground to meet the go-live date of 5th October. Unfortunately the one thing we cannot control is the weather and that has turned this week. I want to apologise to those people who were really hoping for their services to be restored after a long wait this week. We had worked hard for that too, and this is immensely frustrating.
“The wind, cloud and rain has a heavy impact on how we can work at height, and safety is our absolute priority. We will continue to work flat out to restore services to the people who deserve them, and we will provide a further update as soon as we can.”
You can watch a video update from site here.
The chief executive of Arqiva, the company which operates Bilsdale Mast, today met representatives from local authorities, housing associations and charities from across the region to set out proposals to restore TV services and help the most vulnerable groups affected.
Paul Donovan met representatives of 15 regional organisations from across the region a week before an 80-metre temporary mast, near the original site at Bilsdale, is expected to restore services to more than 95% of households.
Bilsdale Mast was damaged by fire on August 10th, since when the company has been working around the clock to restore vital services to those affected, including by erecting more temporary masts at Eston Nab, Sutton Bank and other sites.
As well as updating the group on progress around ‘Project Restore’, Mr Donovan set out a campaign to engage local communities to help those people who will still not have a full service once the temporary mast is switched on. A dedicated call centre will open shortly, and a new online hub will be launched providing updated information and a place where people can register their postcodes and details to get support.
Those attending were shown detailed maps of the region setting out the likely impact of the temporary mast’s switch-on, and the areas which contain so called ‘not-spots’ of coverage which will need further intensive support. Engineers will be sent out to help households.
At the outset, people aged over 65 and those whom are either clinically vulnerable or vulnerable will be prioritised for support.
Mr Donovan also announced initial support of £150,000 for three regional charities, Two Ridings Community Foundation in North Yorkshire and County Durham Community Foundation. Each organisation will receive £50,000 to help identify those vulnerable people affected by the loss of their TV service, and to support work on digital inclusion and social isolation.
Helicopters are lifting the temporary mast into place and the damaged mast is to be dismantled. A team of around 100 staff are working on the site at Bilsdale Moor. The temporary mast is due to be switched on next Tuesday October 5th, if the weather permits work to continue at speed. Checks on the temporary mast will disrupt TV services the day before on Monday October 4th.
Paul Donovan said: “It was extremely helpful to have the support and input of our partners and stakeholders across the area as we work to fix this together. Arqiva is absolutely committed to restoring services to those who are affected as quickly as possible, and to supporting the most vulnerable people as a priority.”
Jan Garrill, chief executive of Two Ridings Community Foundation in North Yorkshire, said: “Television is so important to people in North Yorkshire, and especially the elderly who rely on it for companionship. This donation from Arqiva is very welcome, as is the plan to restore services, and we will work with the company to provide help and advice to those who need it most.”
Michelle Cooper, chief executive of County Durham Community Foundation, said: “This plan to restore services and this support is extremely welcome and much-needed. Television is vital to many people in County Durham, and especially to those who rely on it for companionship, preventing the isolation that comes from the loss of a TV signal is very important.”
Helen Hunter, chief executive of North Yorkshire and Darlington Age UK, said: “We mustn’t forget those people across our region who do not have digital connectivity, and for whom TV is a really important service and part of their lives. These funds will help us bridge that local digital divide. While Arqiva is making progress, we all need to help with the efforts to restore this vital service as quickly as possible.”
Bilsdale temporary mast progress update – Helicopters begin moving materials into place
– First of over 200 air lifts of materials taking place
– Build project remains on track for go-live on 5th October
– Testing of 80m mast signals will require some service disruption on 4th October
North Yorkshire, UK, 21 September 2021: Arqiva, the leading UK communications infrastructure and media services provider, has begun lifting materials on to the Bilsdale site by helicopter as part of urgent work to build an 80m-high temporary mast.
The temporary structure will return Freeview TV services to more than 90% of households across the area which were affected by a fire to the original Bilsdale mast last month.
Materials being lifted by air to the site include around 200 x 750kg concrete blocks which will anchor the temporary mast in place. The helicopter will also be used to transport the sections of the mast itself to the moorland site, along with the metal ‘sledges’ which house the concrete blocks.
The lifts are part of progress towards the building of the mast as teams work around the clock to help restore services to people. Once the material is in place, the helicopter will be used to then erect the mast itself by lifting separate sections one at a time to be secured in place by specialist riggers.
In total, the helicopter is expected to complete more than 230 lifts over the coming days.
Work to erect the temporary mast is dependent on the weather, but it is currently expected to be completed on Tuesday, 5th October.
In order to properly check that the new, temporary mast is covering the area in the desired way it is necessary turn off other temporary sites for a period the day before, Monday 4th October. That means households will see some disruption on that day, for which Arqiva apologises in advance.
A video update from the site is available and can be viewed here. Further updates on Arqiva’s work to restore service will follow in due course.
Adrian Twyning, Chief of Operations at Arqiva, said:
“We are working around the clock to restore services to those people who are affected as quickly as possible. Using the helicopter is part of that effort and is the least disruptive way of transporting materials across this remote and sensitive environment.
“Arqiva has experience of using helicopters in this way, and we have successfully completed more than 50 projects on our sites over the years that required a helicopter to lift material or equipment into place.
“This is a huge logistical effort involving over 100 people and, subject to bad weather or any other unforeseen difficulties, we are making good progress towards completing the works on Tuesday 5th October.
“The 80m temporary mast more closely matches the coverage pattern of the existing mast than the temporary sites we have built at Eston Nab, Arncliffe Wood and Sutton Bank. Properly checking the 80m temporary mast requires us to turn off those other temporary sites for a period the day before, Monday 4th October. That means some households will see disruption to their service on that day, for which we apologise in advance.”
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Protecting the environment – How Arqiva is building an 80m mast on a Site of Special Scientific Interest
- Second site update film highlights environmental considerations to be followed on Bilsdale site
- Arqiva working with on-site ecologist to minimise impact on flora and fauna in the Site of Special Scientific Interest and National Park
North Yorkshire, UK, 17 September 2021: Arqiva, the leading UK communications infrastructure and media services provider, is working with environmental experts to protect a moorland Site of Special Scientific Interest to ensure that we act quickly to build a temporary mast and comply with our obligations to the unique and beautiful environment of the North York Moors.
Alongside construction work, which began on Monday 13 September, Arqiva is consulting with ecologists at the site itself in order to protect the moorland environment.
Our ecologists have attended site to complete surveys and carry out sensitive habitat clearance in small, discrete sections of the Bilsdale moor. This work has been completed to ensure the works to construct the temporary mast avoid impacts to the heathland habitats and wildlife (birds, reptiles and amphibians) which make the area so important and sensitive.
Our work in this area extends to a detailed heathland recovery strategy which will be implemented as the temporary mast is removed to ensure that there is no long-term harm to the moorland. We are also working hard to ensure that the project leaves a lasting legacy benefit for the moors its wildlife.
The recovery strategy includes re-seeding the heather which is being cleared to make way for the mast base and anchors for the stays (the steel ‘guy ropes’ which will keep the mast upright) and sourcing the correct type of stone to interact with the surroundings.
Floodlights which will allow overnight working in the remote site are solar powered, removing the need for diesel burning generators.
Arqiva has released more video of work on the site, and the environmental efforts involved.
Adrian Twyning, Chief of Operations at Arqiva, said:
“The site at Bilsdale is unique and complex, and we have worked closely with the landowner, Natural England and others to ensure that while we act as fast as we possibly can to build this mast, we do not ignore our clear obligations to the natural environment.”
“Our team is working tirelessly to deliver our recovery plan at Bilsdale, and to date we have been able to return a signal to upwards of 500,000 households using existing and temporary infrastructure around the area usually served by the Bilsdale mast.”
Once operational, the 80m-high temporary mast is expected to provide Freeview TV signals to an area covering over 90% of households which were served by the existing Bilsdale mast, which was damaged by fire on August 10. Due to the nature of the site, the build is heavily reliant on helicopter operations and working at height, which makes it weather dependent, but is expected to take 21 days to complete.
A video is available highlighting some of this environmental activities and can be viewed here. Further updates on the work to restore service will follow.
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Arqiva begins work on temporary mast at Bilsdale site
– Work under way to build a temporary mast which is expected to restore signals to over 90% of affected households
– Video update posted from site
North Yorkshire, UK, 14 September 2021: Arqiva, the leading UK communications infrastructure and media services provider, can confirm that work has commenced on the temporary mast at its Bilsdale site.
A team of around 100 people began construction work at Bilsdale yesterday (Monday 13 September) with materials being transported into place and ground preparation began for the mast’s installation. The team are working at pace to clear the site and put foundations in place for the ground-based transmission equipment.
Once operational, the 80m-high temporary mast is expected to provide Freeview TV signals to an area covering over 90% of households which were served by the existing Bilsdale mast, which was damaged by fire on August 10.
The clearance includes excavating heather after which the area will be re-seeded. Stone used on site has also had to be specially selected to ensure the right levels of acidity for the surrounding environment.
Arqiva’s priority is now on working with organisations across the affected area including local councils, housing associations and charities to reach and support those who may remain without signal following the mast build, and to prioritise the most vulnerable people affected.
Adrian Twyning, Chief of Operations at Arqiva, said: “We are working 24/7 to restore services to as many people as possible across the North-East and North Yorkshire. This is complex work, involving multiple agencies and highly skilled teams. We are fully committed to the task at hand.”
A video is available of initial construction activity on site and can be viewed here. Further updates on the work to restore service will follow.
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Arqiva’s Bilsdale Service Restoration Update
– Arqiva Chief Executive to meet local leaders and community groups as latest new transmitter comes online at Sutton Bank
– Around 500,000 households now returned to a Freeview coverage area
– Arqiva will be meeting local organisations to discuss support for the most vulnerable affected
North Yorkshire, UK, 08 September 2021: Arqiva, the leading UK communications infrastructure and media services provider, today provided an update on Bilsdale Mast following the recent fire that affected services across the region.
Chief Executive Officer, Paul Donovan, will be meeting council and community leaders across the area to discuss the restoration of services and how to prioritise the most vulnerable people affected, and he returned to the site to view progress. A new, temporary mast has today restored some TV services to over 100,000 more people in North Yorkshire.
While investigation into the cause of the fire continues, the implementation of the company’s recovery plans has now resulted in around 500,000 households being returned to a Freeview coverage area.
Arqiva’s view is that the damage caused by the fire means it is probable that the existing mast will have to be dismantled.
The company has used a combination of its existing sites and new, temporary structures to restore services and was today able to announce that an additional new transmitter site at Sutton Bank was now providing Freeview TV signals to over 100,000 households in areas including Harrogate, Knaresborough, Pickering, Ripon, Masham, Leyburn and northern parts of York.
The next stage of the plan is to build an 80 metre-high temporary mast on land near the existing mast at Bilsdale.
A team of around 100 people are in place to undertake the site preparation, helicopter lift for the mast structure and transmission set up. Working with local authorities, planning bodies, central Government, broadcast customers and regulators, the national park and others, good progress has been made in recent days. It is expected that this temporary mast will restore Freeview TV services to over 90% of affected households in the coming weeks.
Speaking close to the damaged mast, and after meeting council leaders, Chief Executive Paul Donovan said:
“First and foremost, I want to apologise again to those who people who have had their services disrupted by the fire at Bilsdale Mast; and especially to those who rely on television for companionship.
“Our absolute priority is to restore services as quickly as we can. We have a detailed recovery plan which continues to progress as quickly as possible. This morning Freeview television services were restored for over 100,000 more homes in the region.
“However, this is a complex task and there is clearly a lot more to do, so we are working with our partners as quickly and safely as possible. I would like to extend a special thank you to all those people who have been supporting friends and neighbours who may not have access to the internet or other sources of information and entertainment. We will prioritise the most vulnerable people affected.
“Our teams are doing everything in their power to restore services for as many people as possible as quickly as we can and we will provide further updates on progress.”
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Comment from Freeview
As a result of Arqiva’s continued engineering work, thousands more households across the North East will have their Freeview signal restored. The new Sutton Bank transmitter serves households across North York, Harrogate, Pickering, Ripon, Masham, and Leyburn.
If you are in one of these areas please try retuning your TV to make sure your channel list is up to date. For advice on how to retune, as well as a more detailed updates for each area, please head to our website – www.freeview.co.uk/bilsdale
With frequent engineering updates taking place throughout the day the freephone number is one way we can keep all our viewers as up to date as possible. We also have a staffed adviceline for more detailed help, available during office hours on weekdays.
We want to thank all viewers for their continued patience at this time, and we will be continuing to keep all viewers up to date with the latest developments as soon as we can.
Notes to Editors:
• The Bilsdale mast is the tenth tallest structure in the UK at 314m (1030ft) tall. (Arqiva operates nine out of the top ten).
• At a total of 685m (2260ft) above sea level, it is one of the highest in the UK.
• The tubular structure weighs approximately 500tonnes.
• The Bilsdale transmitter provides Digital Terrestrial TV along with digital and FM radio signals to the area, including:
- PSB1, 2, 3, COM4, 5, 6, 7 & LTV – Television multiplexes
- BBC Radios 1-4, Radio Tees & BBC DAB
- SDL, MuxCO North Yorkshire DAB, BAUER Teeside, Digital 1
- TFM, Capital, Heart & Classic FM
• It also provides mobile phone and other ancillary services that require a broad reach.
• According to Freeview, more than 500,000 households are served by the mast
• Not all of these households are solely reliant on Freeview for TV services (being able to access online services/players, the Freeview app, Freesat or subscription satellite or cable services).
• Within nine days of the fire Arqiva had returned some Freeview television services to around 250,000 households, and the following day that was extended to around 400,000.
• There are 16 relays which receive a signal from Bilsdale and pass it on to smaller areas, they have all now been restored.
• Radio services have also been largely restored.
• Having provided a technical solution for the vast majority, Arqiva is now meeting with local organisations such as Age UK, local authorities and housing associations to discuss the best way to serve these people.
• Questions on the license fee should be directed to the Television Licensing Unit at https://www.tvlicensing.co.uk/ or on 0300 790 6076
Updated 02/09/2021 – additional relay transmitters back on air, and new freephone number for Freeview now available
This week has seen the successful restoration of more Freeview television services for those who receive signals from Arncliffe Wood, which mostly serves the Darlington area. Additionally, we have also restored services from a number of relay sites. These are:
Working with our partners we are continuing our efforts to enable access to the Bilsdale site in order to build a temporary mast as quickly as possible.
We remain absolutely committed to restoring services to our customers as soon as we can, and to working with our partners across the region in order to do so. We apologise for the fact that services have not been restored as quickly as we had hoped, and we will provide a further update in due course.
If you are served by the Rookhope, Castleton or Bainbridge relay transmitters, you should now see your signal restored following engineering work today.
If you’re in Hartlepool, Middlesbrough, Redcar, Stockton, Darlington, Barnard Castle, Richmond, Leyburn, Catterick, Masham or Ripon, you may be able to receive more channels following engineering work at the temporary transmitters serving your areas.
You may need to retune your TV set to ensure your channel list is up to date. For more information as well as advice on how to retune, head to www.freeview.co.uk/bilsdale
With some homes still without service, we want to thank viewers who live in the local area for looking out for those who may still be isolated from their usual source of information and companionship, and for continuing to help us to keep these viewers informed.
Updated 27/08/2021 - More relay transmitters back on air
We continue to work through the process to enable access to the Bilsdale site to build the temporary mast. There is no specific new detail to share at this point but we are continuing to work round the clock to find a way forward.
Meanwhile, this week has seen the successful restoration of some Freeview television services for those who receive signals from the smaller relay sites in the following areas:
These relays normally receive a signal from the main Bilsdale mast (Aislaby actually takes its signal from Ravenscar) and ‘pass it on’ to the communities in the area that cannot see the main mast.
We once again apologise that services have not been restored as quickly as we’d hoped and will provide a further update as soon as possible.
Updated 24/08/2021 - Delay to proposed temporary mast at Bilsdale
Arqiva continues to do everything in its power to restore broadcast services as quickly and safely as possible following the fire which damaged the Bilsdale Mast earlier this month.
The majority of homes affected, more than 400,000, have now had their TV services restored, and FM radio and Digital Radio have also returned to most households.
Our teams are working round the clock, alongside our partners, to return services to normal for people across the area as quickly as possible. We fully recognise that, for those who remain affected, this is a frustrating time as services have not been restored as quickly as we had hoped. We apologise for that.
The remaining stages of our plan require access to the original mast site to deliver materials, build and commission the temporary 80-metre mast which would expand TV services to the vast majority of households. The legal process to secure appropriate access to the site to build the temporary mast is taking longer than we initially anticipated and as a result it will not be operational by this weekend as we’d hoped.
We are making representations to the court as to the severity and the urgency of the situation but we are in the hands of the judicial system currently. We continue to speak to the landowner to see if we can reach an access agreement whilst the application is being processed. We are doing everything we can to move this forward as quickly as possible and are seeking the assistance of everybody involved to accelerate the process.
Comment from Freeview
‘We share in our viewers disappointment that the new temporary mast at Bilsdale has been delayed, particularly at such short notice. However, we have faith that Arqiva is doing everything in its power to reach a new access agreement with the landowner.
We will continue to keep viewers up to date with the latest information and guidance via our website and social channels.’
Following the coverage improvement at Eston Nab yesterday, today we have completed the installation of the additional 15m mast at Arncliffe Wood, providing approximately 200,000 households with coverage for TV (PSB1, 2 and 3 multiplexes featuring the main BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Channel5 services)
The television relay at Skinningrove was also restored yesterday, providing channels from the PSB2 multiplex (the main commercial TV channels). Further work we expect to be complete early next week will provide these same households with the BBC channels and HD variants.
We will provide further updates as soon as possible.
For further help and advice please contact Freeview at https://www.freeview.co.uk/bilsdale-transmitter
We are pleased to report that the planned power increase at Eston Nab has been completed this morning (19/08), which has increased coverage for TV (PSB1, 2 and 3 multiplexes featuring the main BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Channel5 services) to more than 250,000 households in total.
SDL and D1 Digital commercial radio multiplexes - including stations such as Absolute Radio, Classic, Planet Rock, Times Radio, Scala Radio, Boom Radio, Kiss, Magic and Talksport - are now also broadcasting from Eston Nab to much of Middlesbrough, Stockton-on-Tees and the coast to Hartlepool.
We can also confirm that in the last 48 hours the Digital TV relay at Peterlee has returned to service, as it is now taking its feed from our Pontop Pike site.
Work to install additional equipment at Arncliffe Wood to further extend coverage is also in progress and is still expected to be complete by this weekend.
If you live around Hartlepool, Middlesbrough, Stockton-on-Tees, Redcar, Thornaby-on-Tees, Darlington, Barnard Castle, Richmond or Billingham, you may now see some channels on your TV as a result of the continued engineering work. If your TV is still struggling to pick up any signal, an automatic retune could help. For information on how to retune, alongside detailed advice for each area, please visit our website at https://www.freeview.co.uk/bilsdale-transmitter
If your TV still can’t pick up a signal, we understand how frustrating this must be, and engineers are working round the clock to further improve the coverage as soon as possible. If you have an online connection, you can watch Freeview content via a connected Freeview Play TV, the Freeview website, or the Freeview mobile app.
Later today (17/08), we expect to return digital radio services from SDL and D1 from Eston Nab, providing digital radio on those multiplexes for much of Middlesbrough, Stockton-on-Tees and the coast to Hartlepool.
We continue to be in constant dialogue with all our broadcaster customers, Freeview and our regulator Ofcom regarding our plans, and updating MPs to keep them informed.
As per our previous update, we now expect to have completed the improvement of TV coverage from Eston Nab, and also the installation of a further 15m mast at a site in Arncliffe Wood by the weekend.
These two developments should deliver a significant improvement in TV coverage for viewers in the areas including Darlington, Stockton, Catterick, Leyburn, Masham and Ripon. We will update viewers on any action they need to take with further updates later this week.
Work on phase 2 of the recovery plan continues. We still anticipate the temporary mast to be effective by 28 August.
For further help and advice please contact Freeview at https://www.freeview.co.uk/bilsdale-transmitter
Over the weekend work has continued at both our Eston Nab site and Bilsdale itself in efforts to recover services for more people. The Fire Service were able to access the base of the mast for the first time since the fire broke out and we are now able to begin the process of assessing the condition of the mast itself. There are no findings to report at this stage and we will update as soon as we are able.
As reported last week, some television multiplexes (a multiplex is a bundle of digital channels) are now broadcasting from Eston Nab.
We are currently undertaking additional works at the Eston Nab site to allow us to extend the coverage area of the signal to cover parts of Darlington, Richmond and Barnard Castle among others which we expect to be complete this week.
We are grateful to our landowners who continue to provide access to their lands to allow this critical work to take place.
We will update further tomorrow (17/08/21)
To date, the following services are on air:
BBC Radio Tees, TFM, Capital, Heart, Classic - Broadcasting from Eston Nab
BBC Radio Tees – Also broadcasting from the Whitby relay
BBC National DAB, Bauer Teesside DAB – Broadcasting from Eston Nab
Digital Terrestrial Television
PSB1 (incl. BBC1, BBC2 CBeebies and CBBC), PSB2 (incl. ITV, ITV2, Channel4 and Channel 5), PSB3 (incl. BBC 1 & 2 HD, ITV1, Channel4 and Channel5 HD), COM4, COM5 and COM6 multiplexes – broadcasting from Eston Nab to a limited area
PSB1, PSB2 and PSB3 – Also broadcasting from the Guisborough and Whitby relays to c.35,000 homes
PSB1 and PSB3 – Broadcasting from the Limber Hill relay to c18,000 homes
For further help and advice please contact Freeview at https://www.freeview.co.uk/bilsdale-transmitter
We have had some success during phase 1 of our recovery plan using the Eston Nab site to restore services for some areas. Eston Nab is unfortunately unable to reach all the areas served by the larger Bilsdale mast, as broadcast signals rely on line-of-sight between transmitter and receiver (your rooftop aerial). This is the reason why masts such as the one at Bilsdale need to be so tall, and why they are located where they are – to reach as many homes as possible.
The job of locating transmission equipment involves complex work to assess coverage areas, ensuring line of sight while avoiding interfering with other equipment and also the environment in which they are required. The only way to truly replicate the service from Bilsdale is to erect something on the same site, which has been difficult given the nature of the incident. To date we have been unable to even access the existing mast to assess its condition.
Phase 2 of our plan involves the erection of an 80m temporary mast at Bilsdale and we have been surveying the site to identify the best alternative locations within the restrictions we have. Included in this is the fact that Bilsdale is a Site of Special Scientific Interest, meaning we have to seek agreement to place any additional equipment.
There are many activities to this phase 2; preparation of ground, access, erection of an 80m temporary mast which involves raising the mast itself, running power, bringing in high powered transmitters and feeders to the antenna and configuration and test. This part of our plan should reinstate TV coverage for the vast majority of viewers who receive signals directly from Bilsdale. Due to the work required to deliver this solution we expect that work to be complete within 14 days from now.
We are sorry for the ongoing disruption but are committed to delivering a solution for our broadcast customers and you, their viewers and listeners, as fast as we can. We understand the frustrations of some of you that this process is not quicker, and we expect to be able to provide details next week of which areas should benefit from phase 2. But following this update we hope you can understand that broadcasting to the nation is complex and while these incidents are thankfully rare, 99.99% of the time when you turn on your TV the picture will be there.
For further help and advice please visit Freeview https://www.freeview.co.uk/bilsdale-transmitter.
Our engineers continue to work tirelessly on our three-stage recovery plan to reinstate all services that were present on the Bilsdale mast. Phase 1 involved establishing a service for some people as soon as possible, phase two involves improving that coverage either by increasing power or using temporary sites, and phase three is the restoration of an equivalent service.
Some viewers who received their TV signals directly from the Bilsdale had their TV services restored using our site at Eston Nab last night (11/08). As of this evening (12/08), we have also been able to add channels on another multiplex meaning more channels are now available in those areas. To enable this, we have built a temporary tower at Eston Nab, added antenna and feeders, wired electrics and configured the antenna.
We have also been able to restore services from the two largest relays of Bilsdale, at Whitby and Guisborough – which each serve tens of thousands of households and we have also restored radio services in some areas.
While we understand the frustration of those in areas that are not yet restored, we would like to assure you that we are doing all we can to restore services as fast as we can. Bilsdale is a Site of Special Scientific Interest and to replicate what is there is not a simple task. Phase 2 will see the vast majority of TV coverage restored from temporary masts at Bilsdale and we expect to be able to give a firm timeline on that phase tomorrow (Friday 13/08)
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