Freeview gave viewers an update… and it’s not the news people wanted to hear
Thousands of people across England are unable to tune in to their favorite Freeview channels, DAB or radio stations due to a major fire at the Bilsdale transmitter, located on the North York Moors, in early August. Arqiva, which manages the channels used for Freeview and DAB, planned to restore service from the site today, August 28. However, in a devastating update to viewers in North Yorkshire, Teesside and County Durham, Arqiva has now confirmed that its temporary mast will not be operational by that deadline.
Worse, Freeview has not revealed when users can expect full service to be restored to the site.
The fire, which engulfed the 314-meter-high mast, apparently destroyed the site. It took more than eight days for firefighters to finally gain access to the base of the Bilsdale transmitter, hinting at the amount of destruction caused by the fire.
However, that’s not what causes delays in plans to restore a temporary station’s signal. The latest setbacks have been caused by a legal problem, Arqiva has confirmed.
In a shared update on the Freeview company blog, it revealed: “The only way to truly replicate Bilsdale’s service is to set up something similar near the original location, which was difficult given the nature of the incident. A temporary transmitter in the same location must restore TV coverage for the vast majority of households that normally receive signals directly from Bilsdale.”
“The company that operates the transmitter, Arqiva, plans to build a temporary transmitter in Bilsdale, a site of special scientific interest, which means it will have to seek an agreement for this,” it adds. “The plan was to move the temporary transmitter to a new location near the existing transmitter on August 28.
If you’re still having trouble getting a signal to your television, you may have to resort to the Freeview app
“This date has now been postponed as the legal process to secure access to the site is taking longer than Arqiva initially expected. Arqiva has informed the court that this is a serious and urgent situation. Meanwhile, Arqiva is trying to reach an agreement with the landowner to speed up the process.”
Freeview says it “shares viewers’ disappointment that the new temporary mast in Bilsdale has been delayed, especially at such short notice”. Some viewers have now been denied access to ITV’s most popular terrestrial channels, Channel 4, Channel 5, Sky Arts, Dave for more than 18 consecutive days. DAB and FM radio signals have disappeared from the airwaves for the same amount of time.
That said, Freeview and Arqiva have worked hard to restore the signal to thousands of people in North Yorkshire, Teesside and County Durham. According to the companies, some 400,000 people have now been able to watch TV again, thanks to boosted signals at neighboring masts, Eston Nab and Arncliffe Wood.
Meanwhile, engineers have been able to restore more channels – Teesside TV, for example, came back for some viewers.
Freeview advises that retuning may be necessary to see everything on your set-top box again. Freeview has a number of tutorials on how to automatically retune your Smart TV or set-top box, here.
If the service has not been restored in your area, it is possible to watch online using services such as Freeview Play, BBC iPlayer, ITV Hub and more.
If you usually tune into Freeview with a Smart TV, you can access all of these apps. Alternatively, you can watch Freeview through the companion app on smartphones and tablets, which is available on iOS and Android.
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