Bilsdale TV mast: A timeline of how events unfolded

AS the news comes that Arqiva spent £40 million trying to restore services after the Bilsdale TV mast fire – we’ve had a look at how events unfolded after the incident according to Ofcom.

Ofcom have published their incident review following the fire that Bilsdale Mast that saw hundreds of thousands without signal.

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Organisations delivering broadcasting services need to urgently review their plans to avoid a similar failure in the future, the review has found.

This how the events unfolded following the fire at Bilsdale TV mast according to Ofcom:

August 10 – Fire Breaks out at the Bilsdale Transmitter site. All TV and Radio services broadcast from that site go off air.

August 11 TV services restored at Eston Nab (an existing low power transmitter near Middlesbrough) and BBC Radio Tees and TFM added to the site. PSB services restored at two of Bilsdale’s relay transmitters at Whitby and Guisborough.

August 12 – Further digital TV services added at Eston Nab, via a temporary mast and additional transmitters installed at the site. Capital FM added to the site.

August 13 – Heart FM added to Eston Nab, thereby restoring all local radio services to the majority of their previous audiences.

August 14 – Classic FM added to Eston Nab.

August 15 – The fire at Bilsdale was finally extinguished.

August 17- Digital 1 and SDL digital radio multiplexes added to Eston Nab.

August 19 – Power at Eston Nab transmitter increased 12-fold to improve coverage of the PSB services.

August 20 – Transmitter at Arncliffe Wood brought on-air using a temporary mast and transmitters.

August 24 – Arqiva announced delay in proposed temporary mast at Bilsdale site which had been expected to come on-air before the end of August.

September 2 – All 12 of Bilsdale’s relay transmitters are now back on-air.

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September 8 – Temporary transmitter site at Sutton Bank goes live which brings total Freeview TV restoration to 500,000 homes (of an estimated 670,000 predicted to have lost TV reception). Temporary transmitter for BBC Radio Tees serving Darlington put into service.

October 6 – Fire damaged mast felled at Bilsdale.

October 13 – The 80m ‘Quarry Mast’ at Bilsdale comes on air.

October 25 – Planning consent granted for Station Tower at Bilsdale, 80m in height.

October 30 – 31 – Temporary transmitters covering Thirsk and Loftus went into service.

November 23 – Further power increase at Eston Nab.

November 29 – Two new TV temporary transmitters are switched on to improve or restore TV services in and around Bainbridge and Kirkbymoorside.

December 3 – Temporary transmitters serving Ripon and Castleton came on-air.

December 14 – The Masham temporary transmitter goes live.

December 21 – Temporary transmitter serving Leyburn came on-air.

December 23 – The Helmsley temporary transmitter goes live.

End of 2021 – PSB services predicted to be available to 98.4% of households formerly served by Bilsdale. The figure rises to 99.4% if households also get their aerials pointed at the most appropriate temporary transmitter.

January 14 – Temporary transmitters are brought on at Seaham & Sunderland.

February 23 – Station Tower at Bilsdale comes on air, Quarry mast switched off.

March 8 – The Northallerton temporary transmitter goes live.

End-March 2022 – PSB services are predicted to be available to 98.7% of households formerly served by Bilsdale. The figure rises to 99.9% if households also get their aerials pointed at the most appropriate temporary transmitter.

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May 20 – Arqiva confirms the fire was caused by water entering a component of third-party equipment on the mast.


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