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New interim mast at Bilsdale to be switched on

More than 100,000 homes across North Yorkshire, County Durham and the Tees Valley will benefit from improved TV services when a new, interim mast is switched on tomorrow, Arqiva has announced.


The switchover to the new, 80-metre mast at Bilsdale follows weeks of technical testing and months of construction in often difficult conditions and is the latest step in restoring services following the fire at Bilsdale Mast last August.


On a visit to Bilsdale, Arqiva’s Chief Executive Officer, Paul Donovan, welcomed the switchover to the new mast, praised the efforts of engineering teams who are working in tough conditions, and reiterated the company’s support for those affected.


Last week planning permission was granted for the permanent replacement mast at Bilsdale, which will be more than 300 metres tall and will become one of the UK’s tallest structures. Building work will begin as soon as possible. 


Arqiva, which operates Bilsdale Mast, also set out retuning advice for some homes where the TV signal may be affected by the switchover and help for a number of homes which may need an engineer to repoint their aerial free of charge.


More than 98% of homes across the region have had some TV services restored since the fire. This second, 80-metre interim mast will mean improved TV signals for many households and be more robust and reliable in bad weather.


Paul Donovan said: “The switchover to this new mast is another important step in the huge project to restore full TV services to people across the region. Our teams have worked extremely hard in challenging conditions to complete it. We’re sorry for the disruption which the fire has caused, and we remain fully committed to providing help and advice to those who are affected, and especially the most vulnerable members of our communities.”


The location of the interim mast and the terrain of the North York Moors means that when the switchover takes place a “signal shadow” will be created where the line of sight is interrupted, and the company set out again how the switchover is unfortunately likely to mean a loss of service for some homes.


Over recent weeks Arqiva has been contacting residents in areas where the switch to the interim mast means services may either be lost, or where retuning might be required if signals are poorer. Around 1,250 homes which rely on Freeview services, mainly in east County Durham, are likely to lose their TV signal as a result of the switchover. Homes which use Sky, Virgin and Freesat services will not be affected by the switchover.


An advertising campaign has asked residents to come forward so that engineering visits can be arranged to repoint TV aerials free of charge, and Arqiva staff have provided support and advice to residents from locations around the area.


Engineers have already repointed aerials on more than 200 homes ahead of tomorrow’s switch, and more are arranged. Repointing will mean homes can receive TV signals and have a better long-term aerial set-up. In many cases this will be from another Arqiva-operated transmitter in the North-East, at Pontop Pike.


The Project Restore: TV Signal Help Team is touring the area this week to provide advice and support to residents. Details of times and locations are listed below.


If residents notice a change in their TV reception, then Arqiva is recommending the following:

  1. Retune your TV. For most TVs you simply need to press OK or retune when prompted.
  2. If your TV doesn’t automatically retune, or if you find retuning difficult, then visit or call our freephone helpline on 0800 121 4828.
  3. If, after a retune, you are still missing channels, then please call our helpline.
  4. Some households are likely to lose their Freeview services when the switch happens. If you’ve received a letter from us explaining that we expect you to lose service, then we will send an engineer to repoint your aerial free of charge. Please contact us 0800 121 4828 as soon as possible or register your details online at

The freephone helpline 0800 121 4828 is opening for longer hours this week to support residents:

Helpline opening hours w/c 21 February:

Monday 21 and Tuesday 22 February  – 9am – 6pm

Wednesday 23 and Thursday 24 February – 9am – 8pm

Friday 25 February – 9am – 6pm

Saturday 26 February – 9am – 5pm

Project Restore TV Signal Help Team locations:

Wednesday 23rd Feb     10am – 12pm          

 Asda, Byron Place, Seaham

1pm – 3pm                 

Eastlea Community Centre, Stockton Road, Seaham


Thursday 24th Feb         10am – 12pm               

Ryhope village green

1pm – 3pm                

Raich Carter Sports Centre, Hendon


Friday 25th Feb              10am – 12pm             

Asda, Surtees Road, Peterlee

1pm – 3pm              

St Joseph Church car park, Blackhall Colliery


Saturday 26th Feb          10.30am – 12.30pm     

Morrisons, Whitburn Road, Seaburn

2pm – 3.30pm            

Islamic Centre, Southfield Road, Middlesbrough