Bilsdale TV mast: here's what you'll need to do to your TV when services are finally restored

The chief executive of Arqiva, the operator of Bilsdale Mast, today set out more details of which areas across North Yorkshire and the North-East will benefit from a temporary TV mast being switched on, and which places will require further help and support.

By Duncan Atkins
Wednesday, 6th October 2021, 8:57 am

Speaking to the media in Whitby, Paul Donovan said that once the temporary mast is switched on later this month it will reveal which addresses still do not receive a signal.

Additional, smaller, relay towers will then be built at identified sites to help fill in these so-called “not spots” of TV coverage.

Mr Donovan showed maps of the estimated not-spots (pictured above) with the green areas showing where the signal is the strongest.

Sign up to our daily The Scarborough News Today newsletter

Arqiva's Chief Executive Officer Paul Donovan speaks to media at the Royal Hotel, Whitby.

He said that until the temporary mast is operational, it could not be known for sure which households will remain without signal.

More than 90% of households will have had their TV services restored following the switch-on, but some coastal and Dales areas in North Yorkshire and County Durham are likely to be among the places where services are not restored by the temporary mast and where further measures will be required.

Arqiva announced on Friday that testing and switching on the temporary mast, close to the site of the original Bilsdale Mast, which was damaged by fire on August 10, had been delayed due to bad weather.

Mr Donovan told the meeting that strong winds and low could had hampered work last week.

Paul Donovan talks to the press by Whitby whalebones.

The aim – depending on the weather - is now for the mast to go live between October 13 and 19.

More details will follow on what viewers need to do once the switch on takes place.

Arqiva is working with local authorities, housing organisations and charities on Project Restore to get TV services back for those affected, and to prioritise specific groups.

People over 65, those with disability, and socially vulnerable groups will receive priority help.

A new call centre will provide support and advice, and an engineer will visit homes through scheduled visits if required for those in the priority groups.

For those unable to receive a signal there will be a selection of options, for example including Freesat TV.

A new, online hub offering support and information to those affected – including how to retune or re-point antennae - will be available at later this week.

Arqiva CEO Paul Donovan apologised that bad weather had pushed back the go-live date for the temporary mast but stressed that safety of staff on-site was paramount.

"Once it is switched on, services will be restored for many thousands of people.

“We’re working hard on alternative plans to help those who don’t benefit from that, including here on the coast and in the Dales of North Yorkshire and County Durham, and some other areas."

Asked why there hadn't been a contingency plan in place following a TV mast fire in Peterborough several years ago, Mr Donovan said there was a legal process that had to be followed and also being on a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), stakeholders would need to be consulted over whether the work was appropriate for the environment.