Viewers in North Yorkshire, Teesside and parts of County Durham will need to wait longer for a new temporary transmitter mast to go live.
Freeview services in the area have been disrupted since the 10th August, when a fire broke out at the Bilsdale transmitting station. Since then, some viewers have seen their services restored via three temporary masts surrounding the North York Moors.
A new 80 metre mast, to the south-west of the original structure, was due to go live on 5th October. In a statement issued on Friday afternoon, transmitter operator Arqiva confirmed the delay.
While the mast itself has been built, Arqiva explained that 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.” Heavy rain and strong winds forecast this weekend have made this job impossible to complete by the intended deadline.
Interim solution continues
- Viewers to the south and west of the moors, including Ripon and York can receive all the basic channels from BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5 from a mobile phone mast at Sutton Bank.
- Viewers to the north and west of the moors, including Darlington and Richmond can receive most channels from the BT site at Arncliffe Wood. However, broadcasts from the site have been affected by power supply issues. This has caused services to drop off air on several occasions.
- Viewers to the north and east, including Middlesbrough, Redcar and Hartlepool are currently served by the Eston Nab transmitter site. Some services have limited coverage.
- Bilsdale’s relay transmitters, including those serving Whitby, Guisborough and the Yorkshire Dales are also back on air. They are now reconfigured to either receive services from another transmitter or from a satellite back-up.
Once the temporary mast is in service, it will cover 90% of households affected by the Bilsdale black-out. Arqiva has been working with local authorities to identify vulnerable households in areas predicted to be in the remaining 10%.
10% of households will not be able to receive a Freeview signal from the temporary mast. This is because mast isn’t high enough to reach over as many hills and obstructions. At 80 metres, it is over 200 metres shorter than the original mast.
Additionally, the temporary mast is due to restore radio and mobile services to villages in the Moors.
Meanwhile, Arqiva’s contractors are reviewing future options for the original mast. As winter approaches, it is unlikely that a fully normal service will be able to resume until well into 2022. The outcome of a fire investigation by North Yorks Fire and Rescue Service is still pending.