Ofcom has agreed to a proposal to extend the reach of local TV and additional Freeview channels in parts of Teesside and County Durham.
Under the proposals, local TV channel Teesside TV will increase its coverage area to enable viewers in and around Darlington to receive the service. The number of households able to receive the service will increase from 233,000 to 353,000.
The coverage boost is being incorporated into plans for the new transmitter mast being built on Bilsdale West Moor. It will go live next year, replacing the now demolished fire-damaged mast.
Originally, the old Bilsdale mast provided the extra channels, including Teesside TV, to viewers in Middlesbrough, Hartlepool, Redcar and Stockton on Tees. Since the fire on 10th August 2021, which knocked out Freeview in many parts of North East England, the local TV multiplex is currently broadcast from a temporary transmitter at Eston Nab, near Middlesbrough.
Coverage will be expanded westwards when services switch to the new Bilsdale mast in 2023. This means viewers in the Bishop Auckland, Darlington and Newton Aycliffe area will be able to receive channels they couldn’t receive from Bilsdale before the fire.
Ofcom’s approval means engineers can now work on installing antenna on the Bilsdale mast that will provide wider coverage.
Ofcom said the coverage boost “would have a positive impact on the viability of both the local service and the local multiplex.”
Which channels will be available across a wider area?
Viewers will be able to watch:
- Teesside TV (channel 7)
- Great! Movies Classic (channel 52)
- Great! TV (channel 50)
- Great! Movies+1 (channel 60)
- Reality Xtra (channel 68)
- Tiny POP (channel 207)
The above information is based on the services currently broadcast on the local TV multiplex. This could change between now and go live in 2023.
About the local TV multiplex
The local TV multiplex has capacity to carry additional commercial channels on top of the relevant local channel in each area. Income received from renting out spare capacity helps cover the costs of distributing local TV on Freeview.
Around 2/3rds of UK households are within range of a local TV multiplex.
Former Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt set up the current system of Local TV on Freeview. The first local channels went on air during 2013-14.