Nearly two years of Freeview TV reception disruption is almost over for viewers in North Yorkshire, Teesside and parts of County Durham.
The new replacement transmitter mast at Bilsdale serving the area will officially go live on Monday 22nd May, initially carrying the core Freeview channels in standard definition. Other channels will follow later.
This follows successful tests of the new antenna that will broadcast the signal from the top of the 300 metre high structure.
Arqiva has shared a new photo of the new mast (above), which shows the white UHF antenna shroud at the top of the mast. The image also highlights the difference in height between the new mast and the smaller temporary tower.
The new structure was needed after the original Bilsdale West Moor mast was destroyed by fire in August 2021, cutting off Freeview for hundreds of thousands of viewers.
Some viewers originally lost service for several months, as engineers scambled to erect temporary masts and gain planning permission to start work at Bilsdale.
No action required for most viewers
Adrian Twyning, Chief of Operations at Arqiva said most viewers won’t need to take any action when the new mast goes live on Monday morning.
But he urged viewers to try retuning their TV or box if they experienced any loss of signal from 22nd May.
Some viewers who previously received help from “Project Restore” to restore their TV reception have received letters with further instructions on what to do from next week.
▶️ Explainer: why many viewers won’t need to do a thing
The new mast will use the same frequencies as the temporary tower that has been providing coverage while work on constructing a new mast took place.
That being the case, most viewers will simply turn on the TV on Monday 22nd May without noticing a thing.
As the temporary mast wasn’t tall enough to match the coverage of the original Bilsdale mast, additional masts were erected or upgraded to serve places including Hartlepool, Helmsley, Leyburn, Redcar, Ripon and Thirsk. These operated on different frequencies.
Arqiva has not provided any specific instructions for viewers using these masts yet. But anyone who loses their TV signal when these masts are turned off will need to retune to allow their TV to scan for the signals from the new mast.
Phased migration of TV and radio services to new mast
Not all Freeview TV channels will initially be broadcast from the new Bilsdale mast. Some viewers may lose access to Freeview HD channels until new antennas are installed on the new mast. Affected viewers are being advised to switch to standard definition simulcasts of the affected channels (e.g. BBC One and ITV1) in the meantime.
Arqiva plans to restore the full set of Freeview channels, followed by FM/DAB radio and telecommunications services from Bilsdale in the coming weeks as further antennas are installed on the mast.
This will allow Arqiva to retire the temporary transmitter sites set up to provide coverage in the aftermath of the fire.
▶️ What to do if you experience a loss of service
- Any viewers experiencing loss of standard definition channels after Monday 22nd May should first perform a retune/rescan, and if problems persist call the Project Restore Helpline on 0800 121 4828.
- Reminder: Some households won’t be able to watch Freeview HD channels for a few weeks until additional antenna are installed on the mast.