Arqiva

Arqiva’s Bilsdale Service Restoration Update

08/09/2021

  • Arqiva Chief Executive to meet local leaders and community groups as latest new transmitter comes online at Sutton Bank
  • Around 500,000 households now returned to a Freeview coverage area
  • Arqiva will be meeting local organisations to discuss support for the most vulnerable affected

 Arqiva, the leading UK communications infrastructure and media services provider, today provided an update on Bilsdale Mast following the recent fire that affected services across the region.

Chief Executive Officer, Paul Donovan, will be meeting council and community leaders across the area to discuss the restoration of services and how to prioritise the most vulnerable people affected, and he returned to the site to view progress. A new, temporary mast has today restored some TV services to over 100,000 more people in North Yorkshire.

While investigation into the cause of the fire continues, the implementation of the company’s recovery plans has now resulted in around 500,000 households being returned to a Freeview coverage area.

Arqiva’s view is that the damage caused by the fire means it is probable that the existing mast will have to be dismantled.

The company has used a combination of its existing sites and new, temporary structures to restore services and was today able to announce that an additional new transmitter site at Sutton Bank was now providing Freeview TV signals to over 100,000 households in areas including Harrogate, Knaresborough, Pickering, Ripon, Masham, Leyburn and northern parts of York.

The next stage of the plan is to build an 80 metre-high temporary mast on land near the existing mast at Bilsdale.

A team of around 100 people are in place to undertake the site preparation, helicopter lift for the mast structure and transmission set up. Working with local authorities, planning bodies, central Government, broadcast customers and regulators, the national park and others, good progress has been made in recent days. It is expected that this temporary mast will restore Freeview TV services to over 90% of affected households in the coming weeks.

Speaking close to the damaged mast, and after meeting council leaders, Chief Executive Paul Donovan said:

“First and foremost, I want to apologise again to those who people who have had their services disrupted by the fire at Bilsdale Mast; and especially to those who rely on television for companionship.

“Our absolute priority is to restore services as quickly as we can. We have a detailed recovery plan which continues to progress as quickly as possible. This morning Freeview television services were restored for over 100,000 more homes in the region.

“However, this is a complex task and there is clearly a lot more to do, so we are working with our partners as quickly and safely as possible. I would like to extend a special thank you to all those people who have been supporting friends and neighbours who may not have access to the internet or other sources of information and entertainment.We will prioritise the most vulnerable people affected.

“Our teams are doing everything in their power to restore services for as many people as possible as quickly as we can and we will provide further updates on progress.”

– Ends –

Comment from Freeview

As a result of Arqiva’s continued engineering work, thousands more households across the North East will have their Freeview signal restored. The new Sutton Bank transmitter serves households across North York, Harrogate, Pickering, Ripon, Masham, and Leyburn.

If you are in one of these areas please try retuning your TV to make sure your channel list is up to date. For advice on how to retune, as well as a more detailed updates for each area, please head to our website – www.freeview.co.uk/bilsdale

If you know anyone that might be affected but doesn’t have internet, we also have an automated freephone number, on 0800 121 4828, which will take callers through all the latest news and the viewing options available to them.

With frequent engineering updates taking place throughout the day the freephone number is one way we can keep all our viewers as up to date as possible. We also have a staffed adviceline for more detailed help, available during office hours on weekdays.

We want to thank all viewers for their continued patience at this time, and we will be continuing to keep all viewers up to date with the latest developments as soon as we can.

Notes to Editors:

  • The Bilsdale mast is the tenth tallest structure in the UK at 314m (1030ft) tall. (Arqiva operates nine out of the top ten).
  • At a total of 685m (2260ft) above sea level, it is one of the highest in the UK.
  • The tubular structure weighs approximately 500tonnes.
  • The Bilsdale transmitter provides Digital Terrestrial TV along with digital and FM radio signals to the area, including:

§PSB1, 2, 3, COM4, 5, 6, 7 & LTV – Television multiplexes

§BBC Radios 1-4, Radio Tees & BBC DAB

§SDL, MuxCO North Yorkshire DAB, BAUER Teeside, Digital 1

§TFM, Capital, Heart & Classic FM

  • It also provides mobile phone and other ancillary services that require a broad reach.
  • According to Freeview, more than 500,000 households are served by the mast
  • Not all of these households are solely reliant on Freeview for TV services (being able to access online services/players, the Freeview app, Freesat or subscription satellite or cable services).
  • Within nine days of the fire Arqiva had returned some Freeview television services to around 250,000 households, and the following day that was extended to around 400,000.
  • There are 16 relays which receive a signal from Bilsdale and pass it on to smaller areas, they have all now been restored.
  • Radio services have also been largely restored.
  • Having provided a technical solution for the vast majority, Arqiva is now meeting with local organisations such as Age UK, local authorities and housing associations to discuss the best way to serve these people.
  • While engineering work continues to improve the coverage options, Freeview has also set up a devoted freephone number 0800 121 4828, which will take callers through the latest news and viewing options available to them. The freephone is a recorded update aimed at making sure that viewers who do not have access to the internet can easily check if there are any updates for their area, whenever they need to. Alongside this, Freeview’s adviceline is still available on weekdays for anyone who cannot get online or for those who need more detailed help. For more information as well as advice on how to retune, head to www.freeview.co.uk/bilsdale.
  • Questions on the license fee should be directed to the Television Licensing Unit at https://www.tvlicensing.co.uk/ or on 0300 790 6076

For further information please contact:

Arqiva Tony Johnson

07773 045480 / press.office@arqiva.com

Recognition PR - 01325 363436 
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