TV and radio disruption in Yorkshire could last two weeks after transmitter fire

Yorkshire households could have to wait up to two weeks for TV and radio services to be reinstated after a 1,000ft transmitter caught fire.

The fire broke out in Bilsdale, North Yorkshire, on Tuesday afternoon

The blaze in Bilsale on Tuesday afternoon affected Freeview, DAB, and FM radio signals for more than one one million people in Yorkshire and the North East, but the service for hundreds and thousands of homes has since been restored.

Mast operators Arqiva said engineers are installing a temporary 80m mast, which should reinstate TV coverage for the vast majority of viewers who receive signals directly from Bilsdale, but the work is expected to take 14 days.

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Susan Warcup, 74, who lives in Wilberfoss, said some pensioners are feeling cut off from the outside world while they wait for the issue to be fixed.

She said there is “absolutely nothing” on her TV and there are loud “buzzing noises” on her radio.

“We old folk, who have kept ourselves quiet and out of the way of Covid, have relied on our television for information and entertainment, and generally keeping our heads together,” she said.

“So many of us at the moment are stuck in our homes, frightened of going out and catching Covid, and of course there are many who are housebound as well.

“It’s not really very fair and I’d like to know who is going to stick up for us.”

In a statement, Arqiva said restoring services is “difficult” because engineers need to erect another mast at the same site, which is high on the North York Moors, to “truly replicate the service from Bilsdale”.

The company says the temporary mast should fix the issue for the “vast majority of viewers”.

It adds: “Due to the work required to deliver this solution we expect that work to be complete within 14 days from now.

“We are sorry for the ongoing disruption but are committed to delivering a solution for our broadcast customers and you, their viewers and listeners, as fast as we can.

“We understand the frustrations of some of you that this process is not quicker, and we expect to be able to provide details next week of which areas should benefit.

“But following this update we hope you can understand that broadcasting to the nation is complex and while these incidents are thankfully rare, 99.99 per cent of the time when you turn on your TV the picture will be there.”

North Yorkshire Fire & Rescue Service said there is nothing to suggest the fire was started deliberately but further investigations are needed.

More than 40 firefighters were called to tackle the blaze, following a call from an engineer working at the transmitter and smoke could be seen for miles around.