New Bilsdale mast to be switched on “within a few weeks”

The new Bilsdale mast.

The new Bilsdale TV mast is due to be switched on within weeks, officials say.

Temporary masts and relay stations positioned across the region have provided TV services to the vast majority of viewers and listeners in the period since the fire at the site in August 2021.

Arqiva, which operates the mast, said more than 99 per cent of households were not expected to need anything beyond a retune when the new mast is switched on.

The remaining small number of households may not automatically benefit from the signals from the new mast in a very small number of cases.

Arqiva says it is writing to these households – which received in-home support from its TV engineers as part of Project Restore – to advise them they may be affected and what they need to do if they lose TV services once the mast goes live.

Some may also temporarily lose access to HD services for a few weeks while the additional antenna is installed on the new mast. These channels will still be available in standard definition.

For all households, if a household cannot receive channels 1 – 5, in at least standard definition, a retune or rescan is recommended once the mast is live. If this does not resolve the matter, the Project Restore website will be updated for advice and help.

In the days prior to go-live the antennas will be thoroughly tested. Viewers may experience some short disruption to their TV services. No action needs to be taken during testing and existing services will be returned once testing is complete.

Adrian Twyning, chief of operations at Arqiva, said: “I’m pleased to announce that the new 300m tall mast at Bilsdale will go live for TV services in the next few weeks.

“This has been a huge effort from hundreds of people working around the clock in very difficult conditions – delivering the project on time and keeping our promises to the people of the region.

“When the new mast is switched on the vast majority of people will have their TV services restored to where they were before the fire automatically, without any action.

“Many modern TVs and set-top boxes will rescan channels automatically to the strongest signal available, which for most will be the new Bilsdale mast.

“However, a small number who received an intervention from our engineers during Project Restore may need to either manually retune or contact our Helpline. We will not know for certain until the new mast is tested and switched on exactly how many of them may be affected, so we have written to a larger group as a precaution.

“We are confident of achieving go-live shortly and are looking forward to announcing the go-live date as soon as we are certain. We ask that anyone losing service after the mast goes live retunes or rescans their TV. If they need help with this, or if a retune proves unsuccessful, they should contact the Helpline.

“Due to the level of disruption caused and the impact of these services, we have prioritised the return of the core TV services first. Other services including radio and mobile phone coverage will follow in the coming weeks.”