15,000 homes without TV signal over two months after Bilsdale mast fire

Around 15,000 households are without a TV signal more than two months after a transmitter in North Yorkshire caught fire.

The 1,000ft transmitter caught fire in August

Operator Arqiva said a temporary 80m mast restored service for around 95 per cent of homes when it was switched on earlier this month, but there are thousands of people in Yorkshire and the North East who are in “not spot areas” where there is no coverage.

The company said it is working to find a solution and has sent out £50 Curry’s vouchers to each household, so they can buy a device that will allow them to connect to the internet on their TV and stream programmes.

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Chief executive Paul Donovan said the company is also working with charities to offer support and advice to vulnerable people who are still without coverage.

A dedicated helpline set up by Arqiva has received more than 8,500 calls from affected customers so far and more than 41,000 people have accessed a new website which was set up by the company to provide guidance.

“We’ve been looking at other ways of improving coverage across the region. We’ve been working hard to identify a range of additional infill sites that can actually bring areas outside of the range of the temporary mast into coverage,” said Mr Donovan.

"I'd just like to reiterate our very sincere apologies to the people from the region for the disruption there has been to their services since the mast fire back in August.

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“We continue everyday to work around the clock, to make sure that many people are brought back online for the services that they value so much and we will not rest until we have completed that process.”

The Freeview, DAB, and FM radio signals for more than 1 million people were affected when a 1,000ft transmitter caught fire in Bilsdale on August 10 and North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service said the cause is “believed to be electrical”.

A team of around 100 people were working on the temporary mast and they used helicopters to fly equipment to the remote site in the North York Moors National Park and assemble the mast, but the project was delayed by heavy rain and strong winds.

Customers affected by the transmitter fire have been told they may be able to claim a partial refund or extension to their TV licence if they have been without Freeview TV coverage for more than a month.

TV Licensing said they can apply online or over the phone if they have not been able to access BBC iPlayer or any live TV in any other way, including via cable, satellite and online streaming services