Project Restore Code of Service
Project Restore Code of Service
This Code of Service sets out the support viewers received 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.
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 was investigated and the fire service ruled out arson.
Project Restore was created to restore essential TV services for everyone affected by the disruption and, it restored some Freeview TV services to over 97% of households that lost them following the fire at the Bilsdale Mast. It used a combination of new and existing transmitter sites to deliver signals to the area, including the temporary 80m mast near the original site, while working 24/7 through winter to rebuild the permanent mast. The Project ensured that the number of households that received no signal was minimised.
The Project brought together local authorities, charities and housing associations to identify people who remained without Freeview TV services, so it could offer a range of solutions that ensured no one was left without TV services before the full-size mast came online. It prioritised people aged over 65, the clinically vulnerable and their carers, to target help to them first.
All TV services apart from Comux Local TV were restored from a new full-sized mast in May 2023. Comux Local TV and Radio Services will be restored from the new mast in the coming months. As the core TV services (see below) were restored the Project Restore Support Scheme closed in July 2023.
Arqiva is a telecoms and infrastructure company. We build and operate technology that is used to provide things like TV, radio, and smart meters. We manage over 1,000 transmitters around the UK, including Bilsdale. Arqiva focused on the best ways to help those in the Bilsdale mast area who did not have a TV signal. We are sorry for the frustration this disruption caused and we are working hard to restore the remaining Local TV and Radio services.
Arqiva had help available through a dedicated freephone helpline which has now ceased. Callers were supported by trained agents available to guide viewers through retunes on the telephone and identify those eligible for further help. A member of our team attended to assess if issues were related to the Bilsdale transmitter fire and if so, to complete any internal work to restore at least your PSB services.
Requests for support could 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.
The Project Restore Home Support engineers aimed 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 focused on standard definition (SD) is that not all TV sets can access high definition (HD), and this ensured nobody was excluded from receiving these critical services.
Those who qualified for further help through the Project Restore Home Support team – as well as living in the area affected by the Bilsdale Mast fire – needed 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 were 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 could be made, for example where a viewer with mobility issues relied on a secondary TV set. These were reviewed on a case-by-case basis.
Set-top aerials, communal aerials, and businesses
The Project Restore Home Support was set up to deliver resolutions to residential homes with their own aerials located on the roof or in the loft. It was 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 property owners 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.
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
Viewers are asked to make their own arrangements if they need further support with their TV Services. Arqiva is unable to provide compensation for any costs you incur e.g., through an independent installer.
Project Restore invited viewers to apply for a £50 Currys voucher if they were living in a “not-spot” area where services were not restored following the temporary mast go live on 13 October 2021. The voucher was intended to cover the cost of an alternative way to watch free-to-air TV.
For those who had sufficient internet connectivity, the £50 voucher was intended to be spent at Currys, online or in-store, to buy a TV streaming device. Any funds left over from the voucher after buying a TV streaming device could be used by the householder.
Other than in exceptional circumstances, vouchers were not available to homes that were not directly mailed, or offered vouchers through the scheme, and requests for vouchers were not able to be met.
Permanent mast revisits
Prior to the new permanent Bilsdale Mast being operational, our engineers provided 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 be appropriate indefinitely.
For a small number of viewers the solutions put in place through our engineering visits may not be optimal now that the new permanent Bilsdale Mast is in service. We wrote to these viewers offering to return their aerial to its original alignment free of charge. The deadline for taking advantage of this offer has passed. Now that the Project Restore Support Scheme is closed, we can no longer provide this service, so viewers are asked to make their own arrangements.
Our commitment to service
We are working closely with our partners to provide help and support for viewers.
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 emailing [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 you outlining when we expect to reply.