Transmitter company Arqiva unable to proceed with the construction of an 80 metre temporary mast due to landowner access issues. A legal process is taking place.
The mast should have restored TV signals to more households this weekend. On 10th August, a fire severely damaged the Bilsdale transmitter mast cutting TV and radio broadcasts for thousands just after 1pm. Since then, viewers in parts of North Yorkshire and Teesside have been without a terrestrial TV service.
Transmitter company Arqiva says its waiting for the courts to provide them with the right to access the land. Despite applications to the court highlighting the urgency of the situation, there are currently no signs that the judicial process will be expedited.
The legal process is required in the absence of an access agreement from the landowner of the surrounding area.
Two temporary towers at Arncliffe Wood and Eston Nab have since restored some channels to around 400,000 homes in the area. Additionally, relays at Guisborough, Peterlee and Whitby are back on air. But restoration of services to further households is dependant on a temporary mast at Bilsdale itself.
As a result, TV services are now unlikely to be restored by the August Bank Holiday.
A spokesperson for Freeview said:
“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.“
Satellite and cable services are unaffected.
Why is the recovery of TV services dependant on a temporary mast at Bilsdale?
The damage caused by the fire is severe. The old mast is likely to be unusable. As a result, services need to move to a new transmitter mast.
Any new mast has to be:
- in the direction that existing aerials are pointing at and
- on high ground to reach as many viewers as possible.
The only location where that is possible is as close as possible to the old Bilsdale mast.
Why can’t the work just begin?
Bilsdale is now located in a conservation area. This means extra legal paperwork and securing landowner access agreements. Arqiva cannot access the land until an agreement is reached.
Many transmitter masts across the UK were originally built in the 1950s and 1960s. Since then, access rights, planning and conservation rules have become more complex.
On Friday, a temporary mast at Arncliffe Wood went live. It is providing access to Freeview channels from BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5 via a satellite back up. Viewers in 200,000 homes in the Ripon, Catterick and Darlington area may be able to receive a signal. A retune is required.
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