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Project Restore Code of Service

Project Restore Code of Service

This Code of Service sets out the support viewers can expect to receive as part of a programme to restore essential television services for viewers in the North East and North Yorkshire affected by the loss of the Radio & TV Transmitter Mast at Bilsdale.

The programme is called “Project Restore”. If you need any more information or have any questions, please visit www.bilsdalemast.co.uk or contact our helpline 0800 121 4828

What happened to Bilsdale Mast?

The original mast was more than 300 metres tall and sat on the North York Moors. It served around 600,000 households in urban and rural areas across North Yorkshire, the Tees Valley and County Durham. Weighing around 500 tonnes, it was one of the tallest structures in the UK.

On 10 August 2021, a fire was reported. The fire service arrived within 45 minutes and managed to get the fire under control within a day, although it took five days to clear the site and make it safe.

Unfortunately, the mast suffered serious damage, causing a loss of signal to much of the North East and North Yorkshire. The cause of the incident is still being investigated, but the fire service ruled out arson.

Project Restore

It’s our job to restore essential TV services for everyone affected by the disruption and, to date, we have restored some Freeview TV services to over 97% of households that lost them following the fire at the Bilsdale Mast. We have used a combination of new and existing transmitter sites to deliver signals to the area, including the temporary 80m mast near the original site, and we’re actively prioritising plans to restore the main mast. We have worked hard to make the number of households that receive no signal as small as possible, but we aren’t stopping there.

We’re bringing together local authorities, charities and housing associations to help us identify people who remain without Freeview TV services, so we can offer a range of solutions that will ensure no one is left without TV services until such time that we can replace the full-size mast. We are prioritising people aged over 65, the clinically vulnerable and their carers, so we will target help to them first.

Help available

Arqiva is a telecoms and infrastructure company. We build and operate technology that’s used to provide things like TV, radio, and smart meters. We manage over 1,000 transmitters around the UK, including Bilsdale. Arqiva is focused on looking at the best way to help those in the Bilsdale mast area who do not have a TV signal. We understand the frustration this disruption has caused, and we’re sorry for that. We’re working hard to fix it.

Arqiva has help available through a dedicated freephone helpline – 0800 121 4828 . All callers are supported by trained agents who are available to guide viewers through retunes on the telephone and identify those eligible for further help. This help could be an engineering visit aimed at restoring services in the home, either through an assisted retune, an aerial repoint or replacement, or through a platform change, for example, to install FreeSat.

Requests for further support can also be made through the Bilsdale Mast Project Restore website where a check can confirm if a home is in the Bilsdale coverage area, and what level of signal is expected at individual addresses. From there, should it be required, a web form can be completed to receive a call back for additional support. These callbacks will aim to be made within five working days. We will only ever call people who have provided us with their information – viewers should not give out personal information to anyone claiming to be from the Project Restore Home Support Scheme unless they have proactively requested a callback.
The Project Restore Home Support engineers aim to restore BBC One, BBC Two, ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5. These provide the core services which are intended for public benefit and are required by law to carry critical local and national news as well as public service announcements. They also deliver the largest share of TV viewing on Freeview. The reason we are focused on standard definition (SD) is that not all TV sets can access high definition (HD) and this ensures nobody is excluded from receiving these critical services.

Who is eligible?

Those who qualify for further help through the Project Restore Home Support team – as well as living in the area affected by the Bilsdale Mast fire – need to meet the following requirements:

  • Unable to watch BBC One, BBC Two, ITV, Channel 4, and Channel 5 (in standard definition) on their main TV set – whether this is through the aerial or through a connected SMART TV or a TV connected to a streaming device.
  • Do not have TV services from Sky, Virgin or FreeSat on their main TV set
  • Have not claimed one of the Currys vouchers which have been mailed out by Arqiva to those living in “not spots”, predicted to have limited or no TV signal.

Exceptions to the eligibility criteria listed above may be made, for example where a viewer with mobility issues relies on a secondary set. These will be reviewed on a case by case basis.

Set-top aerials, communal aerials and businesses

The Project Restore Home Support is set up to deliver resolutions to residential homes with their own aerials located on the roof or in the loft. It is not within the Project’s remit to provide a solution for TVs using a set-top aerial. 

Unless a viewer is vulnerable, viewers living in properties that have a communal aerial, for example, flats where one aerial serves multiple homes, will need to contact their landlords for additional assistance outside of the scheme.

Similarly, commercial businesses such as hotels and B&Bs are asked to make their own arrangements through specialist contractors. Arqiva may make exceptions for businesses that support vulnerable viewers.

Broadband services

Engineers are not able to provide additional support for home broadband services; broadband issues will need to be referred to the home’s broadband provider.

Requests for compensation

Please consider carefully before arranging support through alternative means as, other than in exceptional circumstances, Arqiva is not able to reimburse any costs where a viewer chooses to use their own engineer.

Arqiva is also not able to provide compensation for costs you may have already incurred e.g. through an independent installer prior to the launch of Project Restore.

Voucher support

If you’re living in a “not-spot” area, where services were not restored following the temporary mast going live on 13 October, then you will have received a voucher to cover the cost of an alternative way to watch free-to-air TV.

For those who have sufficient internet connectivity, the £50 voucher is intended to be spent at Currys, online or in-store, to buy a TV streaming device. See www.currys.co.uk for the available streaming devices. Any funds left over from the voucher after buying a TV streaming device can be used by the householder.

Other than in exceptional circumstances, vouchers are not available to homes that have not been directly mailed, or offered through the scheme, and requests for vouchers are generally not able to be met. 

Permanent mast revisits

Prior to the new permanent Bilsdale Mast being operational, our engineers will aim to provide the most appropriate solution for restoring TV services, based on signals available at the time of the visit or the immediate future. Most of these solutions will also be appropriate indefinitely. 

However, we recognise that for a small number of viewers the solutions put in place through our engineering visits may not be suitable once the new permanent Bilsdale Mast is in service. We are not intending to revisit all homes and return the aerial to its original alignment, however once the main mast is fully restored and in service, we will review individual requests on a case-by-case basis. Where there is a clear benefit from a return engineer visit, this will also be provided free of charge.

Our commitment to service

We are working closely with our partners to provide help and support for viewers. 

Telephone calls will be responded to at the point of the call or if further information is required, a call back will be completed within five working days of the initial call. 

We will aim to respond to all written communications via email or letter within five working days.

While we try to provide the best possible service to you, we may not always get it right. Where there is a problem, please let us know in the first instance and we will do our best to help. If you are dissatisfied and wish to register a complaint, you can do so by telephoning the helpline. If the helpline is unable to resolve your complaint, please email [email protected] including the word “Escalation” in the subject line. We always take complaints seriously and will listen to your case in full. We will respond to complaints within five working days. Where it is not possible to reply to the complaint within this timeline, an acknowledgement will be sent to the viewer outlining when we expect to reply.