Full restoration of Freeview signals in North East England moved a step closer this week after the final stage of the structural phase of the construction of a new transmitter mast to serve the area was completed.
A new 300 metre high mast has been built on Bilsdale West Moor on the site of the original mast, which had to be demolished in 2021 after a fire severely damaged the structure, knocking out TV, radio and mobile signals in the area.
Work is now underway to add the broadcasting equipment up the sides and the top of the mast, including the antenna that will transmit Freeview TV services across North Yorkshire, County Durham and Teesside.
Once complete, the existing network of temporary masts, including the interim Bilsdale Tower can be turned off.
Arqiva, the owners and operators of Bilsdale mast, is on track to complete the necessary installation before the end of spring 2023.
“The team continues to work tirelessly, including overnight in the equipment rooms, to restore the full-sized mast as quickly as possible.Adrian Twyning, Chief of Operations at Arqiva
“As many will have seen from recent pictures, the structure itself is very near its full height. Once complete, we need to install the antenna at the top and the feeders – which take the content up the tower to the antenna – then we will test the transmitters before go-live. We will continue to update as work progresses.
“The location of the site and the structure means that work is heavily dependent on the conditions. At around 300m, safety is paramount and for those reasons work cannot take place if it cannot be seen from the ground because of fog or low cloud, if ice is present or if the wind speed is too high.
“Under normal circumstances you wouldn’t choose to build a tall structure like this during the winter months, but we are committed to restoring services as soon as we can. We thank everybody for their patience and are sorry for any ongoing disruption.”
In 2022, Ofcom blasted Arqiva for not having site-specific plans for emergencies at Bilsdale. An investigation into the aftermath of the incident also found communications from Arqiva to stakeholders and viewers was lacking.
A survey commissioned by Ofcom found only 4% had received any help from the support scheme launched in the aftermath to help viewers restore their TV service.
Arqiva has previously indicated that water ingress into third-party equipment at the site was the most likely cause of the fire.
PICTURED: Bilsdale transmitter. COPYRIGHT: Arqiva.