Thousands left without TV for over two months as new Bilsdale mast is delayed

Thousands of households in Yorkshire and the North East are still without TV services after a project to set up an 80m mast was delayed by bad weather.

The Freeview, DAB, and FM radio signals for more than 1m people were affected when a 1,000ft transmitter caught fire in Bilsdale on August 10

The Freeview, DAB, and FM radio signals for more than 1m people were affected when a 1,000ft transmitter caught fire in Bilsdale on August 10 and an estimated 23,000 households still have no TV service.

Operator Arqiva was planning to switch on a temporary mast on October 5 and restore services for more than 90 per cent of the affected households, but the project has been delayed because heavy rain and strong winds have made it too dangerous for engineers to climb the mast and lift equipment into place.

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The company is now aiming to switch the mast on between October 13 and October 19, but warned it will not restore services for some households in coastal areas and the Yorkshire Dales so “further measures will be required”.

A team of around 100 people are currently working on the temporary mast and they have been using helicopters to fly equipment to the remote site in the North York Moors National Park and assemble the mast.

Chief executive 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.”

The company has also promised to prioritise restoring services for people over 65, those with disability, and people in socially vulnerable groups, as thousands claim they feel cut off from the outside world without a working television.

North Yorkshire Fire & Rescue Service said the cause of the transmitter fire in Bilsdale on August 10 is "believed to be electrical" and it “is not believed to have been started deliberately”.

Customers affected by the Bilsdale 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.