Viewers who are still without a TV signal in North Yorkshire, Teesside and County Durham may be eligible for a voucher pay for an alternative method of accessing free-to-air TV.
It follows the launch of services from a temporary mast at Bilsdale Quarry, designed to restore reception to additional households. The original Bilsdale mast was felled last week following August’s fire.
Transmitter operator Arqiva estimates 23,000 households will still not be able to receive a TV service. That’s because the temporary mast is limited to 80 metres. Any higher, and the mast would have to go through the regular, but lengthy planning process. This would delay the restoration of TV services.
Consequently, the new mast won’t be able to serve the area previously served by the original Bilsdale mast. Since go-live on Wednesday morning, RXTV understands that even households living in presumed coverage areas are still having difficulties receiving services. North of the Moors, signal strength is often much lower than from the original mast.
Temporary relay sites at Eston Nab and Arncliffe Wood remain on air to serve the towns and cities of Teesside above the north and north-western edge of the North York Moors. However, services at Arncliffe Wood have been cut down. Since Wednesday, the relay carries just the main Freeview services. In total, Arncliffe Wood now carries three multiplexes, instead of six previously.
Arqiva says it will be identifying those living in not-spot areas and reaching out to them with a voucher. Full details of the scheme will be unveiled soon, but here are the main points:
- Arqiva will be identifying households in reception ‘not-spots’.
- Vouchers will be issued to allow households to buy a streaming device to continue accessing free-to-air television.
- Letters will be sent to those households with details on how to claim the voucher.
- The vouchers will be able to be redeemed online or in a shop.
Arqiva has also confirmed it will continue to prioritise specific groups, such as the over 65s, the clinically vulnerable and other vulnerable people with carers as part of its ‘Project Restore’ scheme.
However there is confusion over a helpline available to viewers in the area. On Wednesday, Freeview anyone with reception issues could either call 0800 121 4828 or visit the bilsdalemast.co.uk website to log an issue. Arqiva today has said the helpline and website is for specific groups only.