Help planned for TV viewers unable to get signal after Bilsdale transmitter replaced

Paul Donovan, chief executive of Arqiva.

Engineers are to be sent out to help TV viewers still unable to get a signal when a replacement transmitter is erected at Bilsdale next week.

The chief executive of Arqiva, the company which operates Bilsdale Mast, met representatives from local authorities, housing associations and charities from across the region to discuss the proposals to restore TV services and help the most vulnerable groups affected.

Paul Donovan met representatives of 15 regional organisations from across the region a week before an 80-metre temporary mast, near the original site at Bilsdale, is expected to restore services to more than 95 per cent of households.

Bilsdale Mast was damaged by fire on August 10, since when the company has been working around the clock to restore vital services to those affected, including by erecting more temporary masts at Eston Nab, Sutton Bank and other sites.

As well as updating the group on progress around so-called Project Restore, Mr Donovan set out a campaign to engage local communities to help those people who will still not have a full service once the temporary mast is switched on.

A call centre will open shortly, and a new online hub will be launched providing updated information and a place where people can register their postcodes and details to get support.

Those attending were shown detailed maps of the region setting out the likely impact of the temporary mast’s switch-on, and the areas which contain so called ‘not-spots’ of coverage which will need further intensive support.

Engineers will be sent out to help households in these areas.

People aged over 65 and those whom are either clinically vulnerable or vulnerable will be prioritised for support.

Mr Donovan also announced initial support of £150,000 for three regional charities, Two Ridings Community Foundation in North Yorkshire and County Durham Community Foundation.

Each organisation will receive £50,000 to help identify those vulnerable people affected by the loss of their TV service, and to support work on digital inclusion and social isolation.

Helicopters are lifting the temporary mast into place and the damaged mast is to be dismantled. A team of around 100 staff are working on the site at Bilsdale Moor.

The temporary mast is due to be switched on next Tuesday, October 5, if the weather permits work to continue at speed.

Checks on the temporary mast will disrupt TV services the day before on Monday, October 4.

Mr Donovan said: “It was extremely helpful to have the support and input of our partners and stakeholders across the area as we work to fix this together. Arqiva is absolutely committed to restoring services to those who are affected as quickly as possible, and to supporting the most vulnerable people as a priority.”

Jan Garrill, chief executive of Two Ridings Community Foundation in North Yorkshire, said: “Television is so important to people in North Yorkshire, and especially the elderly who rely on it for companionship.

“This donation from Arqiva is very welcome, as is the plan to restore services, and we will work with the company to provide help and advice to those who need it most.”

Michelle Cooper, chief executive of County Durham Community Foundation, said: “This plan to restore services and this support is extremely welcome and much-needed. Television is vital to many people in County Durham, and especially to those who rely on it for companionship, preventing the isolation that comes from the loss of a TV signal is very important.”

Helen Hunter, chief executive of North Yorkshire and Darlington Age UK, said: “We mustn’t forget those people across our region who do not have digital connectivity, and for whom TV is a really important service and part of their lives.

“These funds will help us bridge that local digital divide.

“While Arqiva is making progress, we all need to help with the efforts to restore this vital service as quickly as possible.”


  1. The people being sent out are technicians not engineers. My father in Richmond has marginal reception quality using a loft aerial. I’m going to replace it with a high gain wideband Group T aerial (to receive RF Channel 55) and use high quality WF100 coaxial cable to minimise cable losses. This should enable decent reception from the Bilsdale temporary mast pending repair of the main mast.

  2. Why the hell has’nt the damaged Bilsdale mast been started to be repaired? It’s just been standing there for many weeks where damaged items could have been repaired. The new mast may cover only 95% of the area so lots of us will still have no TV. I live in Stockton on Tees and l for one was loosing TV singles regularly so something was going on before the original mast was on fire, my smart TV during all of this is only a year old. All my friends and l own Samsung TVs and not one of them are picking up one single. Yet old TVs in a bedroom at least pick up some channels but not the BBC, does anybody understand this Samsung TV issue? Is it because they are bombarding us with their own channels 107 of them, can someone get to the bottom this, thank you.9

  3. Hope all the service will be restored on the 5th without complications, been a bit much the last 5 weeks

  4. A shower of….. So they know already who won’t get a signal why do they want to delay even longer the work they propose for these viewers? The CEO should be ashamed of the mess he is responsible for and walk now.

  5. I have 2 Sonys my old smart one upstairs that tunes in with freeview can pick up the limited channels that are available but my android one in the living room which runs through youview not a thing ..yet my parents that live a few streets away have no problem with the exact same tv
    Thing is I have no idea if it’s my tv with the problem or not cos like you I can bet tv upstairs 🤔

  6. Picture still pixelated lots of channels not available, BBC dont want to know about giving viewers a refund. If a transmitter fire had occurred in the London area,bet the problem would have been rectified within days. Still the north south divide.

  7. Funny how I loose channels except shopping stations strange that init.i live on the wirral merseyside coverage been totally crap .also be told ur compressing band widths as u have sold space for 5 g coverage ,dont know how true this is but bet u wouldn’t tell if it pays u more.

  8. Just over 6 weeks weeks now with no TV services. Arqiva needs to be investigated by OfCom over their dire handling of the Bilsdale Transmitter fire and absolute shambolic mismanagement of this that’s affected 100s of 1000s of people, some of whom are very much vulnerable and rely greatly on their TV as an outlet. A lot of people can’t afford hyped up gas/electricity bills never mind extortionate satellite/cable prices so Freeview is an only option. Disgusted!

  9. We are deaf unable to use subtitles because we use IPlayer for over 8 weeks. Not happy try claim ztV licence they said not recognise us. What lies they sent us TV Licence for 50!years same house!!!

  10. No easy contact details to report no signal from Bilsdale transmitter, I live in Hartlepool and suggest information should be more clear for all members of the general public

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