The new, temporary mast at Bilsdale in North Yorkshire has been switched on, helping to restore TV services to approximately 95% of households across the region.


The switch on of the 80-metre mast following extensive testing means that people across the area will now need to retune their TV sets. A guide on how to do this can be found at

Not everyone is covered by the switch on, and more details on help for people in these so-called “not-spot” areas, where TV services are still affected, are published today. It is estimated that 23,000 homes fall into this category.

Arqiva also today announced:

  • The site is now live, with more details of how to get help and who is eligible in the initial stage
  • Eligible groups will have access to a freephone number and the option to book engineers to visit their homes
  • Vouchers will be sent out to help households in the “not-spot” areas restore their TV services.

Specific groups of affected people are being prioritised at this stage, and local charities in North Yorkshire, Tees Valley and County Durham are helping Arqiva reach them. The specific groups being prioritised are those over 65, the clinically vulnerable and other vulnerable people with carers.

For these groups, a freephone line is available for help – 0800 121 4828 - and engineers can be scheduled to visit the homes of people in those affected areas and in those groups.

In addition, people living in the “not-spot” areas where services are not restored by the switch on will receive a voucher. The voucher can be redeemed in store and online, and more details will follow.

The value covers the cost of an alternative fix which can be chosen from a range of products which will provide ways to receive free to air TV, including a Roku stick device and an Amazon Fire TV Stick. Letters will be sent out to homes on how to claim the vouchers.

An online form will also available for completion by those in the priority categories, and news and other updates are on the site. Further help and support will follow and will be announced in due course, and Arqiva is working closely with local authorities, housing associations and charities to track down those affected and to provide support and information.

Paul Donovan, Arqiva’s Chief Executive Officer, said: “I want to pay tribute to the work and commitment of our teams working around the clock on the moor at Bilsdale to get this temporary mast finished quickly and safely. It is an important step in Project Restore to getting services back across the region, but there is much more work to be done.

“We remain absolutely committed to supporting the most vulnerable people affected by the loss of TV services, and today we are setting out our latest steps to do just that, working with our partners.”


Notes to editors

The Bilsdale mast was safely brought down on 06 October 2021 via a controlled detonation

The?Bilsdale?mast was the tenth tallest structure in the UK at 314m (1030ft) tall. (Arqiva operates nine out of the top ten).?

The tubular structure weighed approximately?500?tonnes.?

It provided Freeview TV, digital and analogue radio signals to the region, as well as mobile and some other ancillary services that require a broad reach.?

Over?600,000 households were served by signals from the mast, however, it is worth noting that not all of these 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 10 days of the?fire?we had returned some Freeview television signals to an area containing around 400,000 households. As of?08 September?that number increased to over 500,000.?

14 direct relays (15 in total) received a signal from?Bilsdale?and pass it on to smaller areas, they have all now been restored with feeds from other sites.?

Radio services have also been largely restored.?

We have worked around the clock to restore Freeview services for people, and many have been able to make use of alternative means of delivery such as smart TV players,?Freesat,?wifi-enabled dongles or their subscription cable or satellite services.

The difference between a mast and a tower is that a mast uses steel stays (akin to guy ropes on a tent) to remain upright whereas a tower is free-standing.

About Arqiva:?

Arqiva is at the heart of the broadcast and utilities sectors in the UK and?abroad,?providing?critical?data, network and?communications?services.

We work in partnership with our customers – major broadcasters and utilities like the?BBC, ITV, Sky, Global, Bauer, Thames Water and Anglian Water –?to meet everyone’s demand for information, content and entertainment?and?enabling a switched-on world to flow.?

We are the only supplier of national terrestrial television and radio broadcasting services in the UK,?consistently?delivering digital TV, analogue and digital radio to?people in?all four corners of the country.?We distribute over 1,000 channels internationally using our fibre and satellite infrastructure.?Our?advanced,?secure and?dedicated?networks?are also?supporting?the?management of?critical data?for?a range of?smart metering networksin the energy and water sectors.?

For more information, news and insights from Arqiva, please visit the website at:?

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l-r Gavin Coleman, Community Development Co-ordinator at Thirteen Group Rosie Mowatt, head of communications Arqiva, Helen Hunter, chief exec North Yorkshire & Darlington Age UK
l-r Gavin Coleman, Community Development Co-ordinator at Thirteen Group Rosie Mowatt, head of communications Arqiva, Helen Hunter, chief exec North Yorkshire & Darlington Age UK
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