Arqiva has begun to test TV services from the new Bilsdale TV mast and has warned of temporary reception drop-outs.
This will affect Freeview users across North Yorkshire, County Durham and Teesside. Viewers should not take any action.
As both the temporary tower and the new 300 metre mast will use the same frequencies, most viewers won’t be able to tell if their Freeview TV signal is currently coming from the new or existing structures on Bilsdale West Moor.
The tests, which started this week, will allow Arqiva’s engineers to check the new antennas are working correctly and delivering the expected coverage.
However, both temporary and new masts can’t broadcast on the same frequency at the same time. As services are temporarily switched from mast to mast, brief interruptions and loss of signal are expected.
The new mast replaces the old fire damaged tubular mast at Bilsdale. Arqiva, as owner and operator of the mast, has been busy working since the August 2021 fire to fully restore all affected services. Planning permission for the new mast was granted early last year.
When will viewers need to take action?
Only after the new Bilsdale mast officially goes live, viewers who can’t receive channels 1-5 in standard definition will be invited to retune.
As reported last week, a small number of Freeview viewers may also lose access to Freeview HD channels in the region for a few weeks as further testing takes place.
Following completion of the work, Arqiva will then be able to close temporary transmitter sites dotted around the area, originally set up to restore reception in places where the temporary Bilsdale tower could not reach. The final stage will involve the restoration of FM, DAB and mobile phone coverage in the area.
This will then bring to an end nearly two years of disruption to households in the area.
Meanwhile, The National Park Authority has signed off the moorland reinstatement work at the location, which sits within a site of special scientific interest, meaning that Arqiva has avoided major impacts to the heathland habitats and wildlife of the area.