Ridiculous and a waste of time: More problems after temporary Bilsdale mast was turned on – Teesside Live

The end to TV and radio disruptions for thousands of households across the region should be coming to a close, or so we thought.

People in Teesside, North Yorkshire, and County Durham have been affected by a fire that destroyed the Bilsdale mast on August 10 – frazzling Freeview and radio channels for thousands.

An update, by owner Arqiva, said the new, temporary mast had been switched on and TV services would be restored to roughly 95% of households across the region.

Read more: Go here for the latest breaking news from across Teesside

The switch on of the 80-metre mast has followed extensive testing and means that people will now need to retune their TV sets, a guide on how to do this can be found here.

But there have been further problems since the switch-on, with some Teessiders reporting it had made the situation no better, and sometimes worse.

“Ours has only picked up a few channels, the only two I watch unfortunately haven’t been restored,” posted one woman on Facebook.

While another resident, living in TS20, added: “Still no TV for us.”

A TS3 man said: “What a joke, waste of time. Not one channel, sick of retuning, but still want you to pay for TV licence.”

Meanwhile, another added: “Retuned and no signal at all in TS8.”

Work underway in September to repair the communications mast at Bilsdale, weeks after it was damaged by file leaving thousands without TV
Work underway in September to repair the communications mast at Bilsdale, weeks after it was damaged by file leaving thousands without TV
(Image: Teesside Live)

Another woman said: “Nothing at all in TS13, been in touch with Freeview Advice all afternoon and everything they advised didn’t work!”

And another woman added: “We’re TS3, only got six channels, getting ridiculous now.”

Others said they have even lost channels – with one woman stating: “I had mine the whole time now today, nothing.”

Another said: “I don’t have any channels at all, I’m sick of retuning.”

Although the switch on was meant to be positive news for many, not everyone is covered and there are more details on help for people in the so-called “not-spot” areas, where TV services will still be affected. It has been estimated that 23,000 homes fall into this category.

Specific groups of affected people are being prioritised first, including those over 65, clinically vulnerable, and other vulnerable people with carers, and local charities are helping Arqiva reach them.

A freephone line is available for help to these groups – 0800 121 4828 – and engineers can be scheduled to visit homes of those affected.

Arqiva’s CEO, Paul Donovan said: “I want to pay tribute to the work and commitment of our teams working around the clock on the moor at Bilsdale to get this temporary mast finished quickly and safely.

“It is an important step in Project Restore to get services back across the region, but there is much more work to be done.

“We remain absolutely committed to supporting the most vulnerable people affected by the loss of TV services, and today we are setting out our latest steps to do just that, working with our partners.”

(L-R) Gavin Coleman, community development co-ordinator at Thirteen Group, Rosie Mowatt, head of communications at Arqiva, Helen Hunter, chief exec North Yorkshire & Darlington Age UK
(L-R) Gavin Coleman, community development co-ordinator at Thirteen Group, Rosie Mowatt, head of communications at Arqiva, Helen Hunter, chief exec North Yorkshire & Darlington Age UK
(Image: Recognition PR)

Residents living in the “not-spot” areas, where TV services are not restored by the switch on, will receive a voucher which can be redeemed in store and online, with details to follow.

The voucher value covers an alternative fix to be chosen from a range of products which provide ways to receive free to air TV, including an Amazon Fire TV Stick and Roku stick.

Letters will be sent out to homes on how to claim the vouchers.

There will also be an online form for those in priority categories to complete, and news of updates on the site.

Arqiva says it is working closely with local authorities, charities, and housing associations to find those affected and to provide information and support.

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