Temporary equipment to be used to restore TV and radio after Bilsdale transmitter fire

Bilsdale transmitter before the fire. Photo: Martin Dawes/Wikipedia.

An update is expected today on when TV and radio services can be reinsated following a fire at Bilsdale transmitter on the North York Moors yesterday.

Engineers say temporary equipment will be used to restore services.

The fire service has now established a 300-metre exclusion zone around the site near Helmsley.

The mast provides TV and radio signals for North Yorkshire and areas of Teesside and County Durham.

The transmitter sends a signal to around 570,000 houses across the region,

TV viewers who receive their television via Freeview are affected, with services still available online.

BBC and local radio stations which use FM and DAB have also been affected.

Arqiva, which owns the transmitter, has apologised for the inconvenience.

It said in a statement: “The fire at our Bilsdale mast site is under control and we can confirm that there were no injuries or casualties.

“Our thanks to the attending emergency services for their swift action. TV and radio services remain off air from the site.

“We are waiting to assess the damage caused.

“Our teams are currently mobilising temporary equipment to site however we are unable to provide specific timelines for restoration of any services at this point.”

North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service confirmed that crews had been sent to the site at 1.19pm on Tuesday.

A spokesperson said: “The initial call came at 13:19 from an engineer working at the transmitter, stating that he believed the mast was on fire due to smoke coming from below the first stay level (approximately 50 – 60 metres up).

“Calls were also received from members of the public who could see the smoke from some distance.

“North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service worked to control the fire in difficult circumstances and extinguished a fire in a single-storey stone building and a 315ft transmitter mast.

“Only one building in a complex of four was affected and there are concerns about the structural integrity of the mast.

“A 300m exclusion zone has been put in place around the mast.

“Eight pumps from North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service attended the incident and firefighting has now ceased until the site has been confirmed as safe for further work.

“The incident was attended by crews from Helmsley, Malton, Thirsk, Danby, Coulby Newham, Ripon, Northallerton and Acomb in addition to mobile water bowsers from Tadcaster and Boroughbridge.

“NYFRS will be working on site tomorrow with Arqiva, the site operators, to bring the incident to safe conclusion.”

Freeview said in a statement yesterday that viewers affected may experience disruption to services overnight.

It added: “There is no need to retune your device, services will be restored once the problem has been fixed.

“We will provide further updates on this article and via our Twitter support account.

“You can watch Freeview on some internet-connected Freeview Play TVs, or one that has the players available to view, you will still be able to watch live and on-demand content from the likes of BBC iPlayer, ITV Hub or All 4.

“Alternatively, you can watch Freeview via our mobile app which is available to download for free from your app store or on a web browser via our online TV Guide.

“For more information visit our article on how to watch Freeview online.”


  1. Hi I only have terrestrial tv and pay the BBC for a licence to watch it. Hope that the BBC will give me a refund for the loss of services. Ha ha ha. I’m sure.

  2. Please can you let me know when the temporary transmitter is in place so can start watching t.v again thankyou neil

  3. Please remember there are a good number of people – particularly the elderly – who do not have a computer or wifi and so cannot access online services. They are probably the community who rely the most on Freeview TV & Radio. I hope the temp solutions will be installed quickly – and tested!

    • I am sure there will be a lot of people working very long hours to restore service though as been noted it will be too dangerous to go up to the site until the structural integrity of the mast has been proved.
      There are plans in place for “disaster recovery” with temporary transmitters and masts available. Someone suggested that they might put a temporary radio transmitter on from another existing non-broadcast site.
      You can be sure there will be lots of people working on it.

  4. Freeview says you can still watch channels online or by an internet-connected TV. What if you don’t have access to the internet or own this type of TV? I can’t even listen to the radio either, although managed to pick up Radio 2! The ironic thing is, I was going to pay this month’s installment of my licence fee today – wonder if I should postpone it!

  5. Can only afford council TV, so sitting here doing nothing,can’t wait to get back to work on Friday,elderly folk must be at their wits ends,surprising how much you depend on your TV for company and comfort

  6. My parents are in their 80s and rely on their television they don’t go out much due to poor eye sight
    I live in Manchester and can only tell them what I am reading online
    I hope that the temperary transmitters can be sorted soon as they are missing their tv
    Thank you

  7. A temporary inconvenience – why are some of you immediately expecting / demanding compensation? For what? It isn’t the BBC’s fault and, as one of the emails stated, there will be heroic efforts to get it going a.s.a.p. So read a book, engage in conversation with spouse / children / neighbours. Play a game. But, as it isn’t life-threatening, STOP complaining.

    • brilliant my thoughts as well its as if we have had tv all our lives but we havnt we what would these people done when there was no tv

  8. I live in Stockton, if I wish to realign my arial to Pnntop Pike transmitter what compass bearing do I use?

  9. I think Arqiva are doing am amazing job getting temporary equipment onto site so quickly.

  10. This is what happens now and again, yet the private owners of the transmitter had no auto back up system but a program of fix and med as required, the UK infrastructure for transmission is out dated and is base don fix and mend to acquire a good return for shareholders, I think that the UK transmission infrastructure needs to be UK owned and UK run and maintained, Transmission must not be in the hands of private individuals or private companies in China/USA/Canada, Like everything else the UK has sold most of its infrastructure such as Gas/Electricity (45% owned by EDF aka the French Government), The transmitter was located at Billsdale for the 405 system back in 1969 but was used before that date, Freeview is free to a point but you pay for the freeview service via food/product adverts and you pay for the BBC via the TV licence and as they all take a bite of the large cherry you are all left for weeks without any services as they have put to many eggs in one basket and the other basket is full of cash taken by shareholders

  11. We are sick at watching SKY at Night and don,t let the so called Engineers install G5,or we will get nothing again. Are they engineers or Scap merchants, ha’ha’ God help us.

  12. Please let us know when service is restored in Middleton in teesdale. My 90 year old month relies on the TV for information/news but also for company. If she is required to retune it , how will she do that as she is housebound and with sight problems? Advice please

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