Still no TV or radio services for district residents after transmitter fire


Last updated Aug 17, 2021
The message that many people are currently seeing on their TV screens

Thousands of homes across the north of the Harrogate district remain without TV or radio freeview services, a week after a major fire at a transmitter mast.

The blackout was caused by the fire last Tuesday that put the 315-metre Bilsdale transmitter out of action.

The loss of the transmitter is affecting parts of Harrogate, Boroughbridge, Kirkby Malzeard, Knaresborough, Masham, Pateley Bridge, Ripon and other locations that rely on a signal that serves the Tyne Tees region.

An update issued on Friday by Arqiva, owners of the transmitter, estimated that the repair work will take up to 14 days.

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As viewers and listeners ask questions about when they can tune in once more to freeview on TV and radio,  one resident has contacted Julian Smith MP requesting that the government look at the bigger picture, in relation to critical infrastructure that serves millions of people.

Julian Smith, MP for Ripon and Skipton.

James Thornborough, who lives in Sharow and whose work saw him specialise in disaster planning, recovery and business continuity, told the Stray Ferret:

“I emailed Mr Smith to raise wider concerns about the potential ramifications of the loss of the service from the mast.

“There is clearly a need to have robust contingency plans in place that anticipate the potential for this kind of occurrence at the Bilsdale transmitter and how to resolve it. ..

In my email to Mr Smith, I said – I am sure you will concede that a TV service being lost to one million viewers qualifies as the loss of a critical national infrastructure service, not least because it deprives the broadcasting companies of the ability to share public safety communications (breaking safety news) by TV or Radio to the design scope audience.”

In an email response, Mr Smith said:

“I note the concerns you have raised in this respect, and have sent a copy of your email together with an email of my own, to the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport, to pass your points on to him.

“I will write to you again as soon as a reply is received.”

In its statement on Friday, Arqiva, provided an update on on-going reinstatement works at the existing site and efforts to bring a television signal back to thousands of properties.

It said:

“We have had some success during phase 1 of our recovery plan using the Eston Nab site to restore services for some areas.

“Eston Nab is unfortunately unable to reach all the areas served by the larger Bilsdale mast, as broadcast signals rely on line-of-sight between transmitter and receiver (your rooftop aerial).

“This is the reason why masts such as the one at Bilsdale need to be so tall, and why they are located where they are – to reach as many homes as possible.”

For many avid TV watchers and radio listeners, a two-week wait is too long and they are looking for other means of tuning in to their favourite programmes.

This can range from re-setting digital TV boxes, to calling in professionals to have their aerials turned to pick up the signal from the Emley Moor Transmitter, which serves the Yorkshire television area.

People can also tune in via the BBC iPlayer.



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