Arqiva Chief Executive updates on temporary mast coverage
The chief executive of Arqiva, the operator of Bilsdale Mast, today set out more details of which areas across North Yorkshire and the North-East will benefit from a temporary TV mast being switched on, and which places will require further help and support.
Speaking to the media in Whitby, Paul Donovan said that once the temporary mast is switched on later this month it will reveal which addresses still do not receive a signal. Additional, smaller, relay towers will then be built at identified sites to help fill in these so-called “not spots” of TV coverage.
Mr Donovan showed maps of the estimated not-spots. More than 90% of households will have had their TV services restored following the switch-on, but some coastal and Dales areas in North Yorkshire and County Durham are likely to be amongst the places where services are not restored by the temporary mast and where further measures will be required.
Arqiva announced on Friday that testing and switching on the temporary mast, close to the site of the original Bilsdale Mast, which was damaged by fire on August 10th, had been delayed due to bad weather. The aim – depending on the weather - is now for the mast to go live between October 13th and the 19th. More details will follow on what viewers need to do once the switch on takes place.
Arqiva is working with local authorities, housing organisations and charities on Project Restore to get TV services back for those affected, and to prioritise specific groups. People over 65, those with disability, and socially vulnerable groups will receive priority help.
A new call centre will provide support and advice, and an engineer will visit homes through scheduled visits if required for those in the priority groups. For those unable to receive a signal we will provide a selection of options, for example including Freesat TV.
A new, online hub offering support and information to those affected – including how to retune or re-point antennae - will be available later this week at bilsdalemast.co.uk
Arqiva CEO Paul Donovan said: “We’re sorry that bad weather has pushed back the go-live date for the temporary mast. Safety of our staff is paramount. Once it is switched on, services will be restored for many thousands of people.
“We’re working hard on alternative plans to help those who don’t benefit from that, including here on the coast and in the Dales of North Yorkshire and County Durham, and some other areas. We’re absolutely committed to restoring services as quickly as we can, and to prioritising those in our communities who need help the most.”
Notes to editors
The temporary mast is expected to restore services for over 90% of households. However, until the temporary mast is operational we will not know for certain which households will remain without signal but we are doing everything we can to make the number as small as possible. Broadcast technology is complex and for reasons outside of our control – rooftop aerial condition, direction and obstacles to the line of sight - one house may receive a signal while next door may not.
The Bilsdale mast is the tenth tallest structure in the UK at 314m (1030ft) tall. (Arqiva operates nine out of the top ten).
The tubular structure weighs approximately 500 tonnes.
It provides 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 are 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.
There are 14 direct relays (15 in total) which receive a signal from Bilsdale and pass it on to smaller areas, they have all now been restored.
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.
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: www.arqiva.com