Engineers are preparing to turn on the new replacement Freeview mast built in the aftermath of the August 2021 Bilsdale transmitter fire. But engineering work may result in a temporary loss of Freeview HD channels.
Arqiva, owner and operator of the new 300 metre high Bilsdale mast has confirmed final preparations ahead of go-live are now underway. Once live, the new mast will replace a network of temporary transmitter sites created to restore TV signals to households, including the temporary tower built on Bilsdale West Moor.
The original, fire-damaged mast was demolished in October 2021, paving the way for a new mast to be constructed. But the related engineering work has resulted in some households suffering variable reception. Before the new mast goes live, a small number of viewers may lose Freeview HD reception for a “few weeks” while engineering work on the new antenna on the new mast takes place.
Once the new mast goes live in the coming weeks, over 99% of affected households in North Yorkshire, Teesside and County Durham will see their Freeview reception fully restored either automatically or after a retune.
In the meantime:
- Households are being advised they don’t need to do anything just yet.
- Viewers who have lost access to Freeview HD (e.g. BBC One HD on channel 101) can still watch all the main channels in standard definition (SD) until full service is restored.
- Another small group of households, who previously received support from Arqiva’s Project Restore also won’t automatically benefit from the new mast at Bilsdale. This is because some households had their aerials repointed to another transmitter. Those households will receive a letter from Arqiva with more information on what to do if they notice any loss of signal.
In the coming weeks, Arqiva will issue more instructions to households.
The new Bilsdale mast will use the same frequencies as those used by the original, fire-damaged mast and the temporary tower on Bilsdale West Moor. This means that many viewers won’t need to take action. Viewers who since the fire only have a limited range of channels will be invited to retune to regain access to a wider range of Freeview channels.
Adrian Twyning, Chief of Operations at Arqiva, confirmed core TV services would be the first to go-live from the new mast, with radio and mobile phone services following later.