Freeview has shared a small update for the thousands of homes left without access to television channels, including the BBC, ITV, Channel 4, and more. The widespread outage, which impacts homes across North Yorkshire, Teesside and County Durham, was caused by a major fire at the Bilsdale transmitter, located on the North York Moors.
A huge blaze that engulfed the vast mast, which stands over 314 metres (1,030ft) tall, on August 10 caused Freeview TV channels as well as DAB and FM radio signals to vanish from the airwaves. Thousands of people have been left without access to television and radio channels from the BBC, as well as terrestrial channels from ITV, Channel 4, Channel 5, Sky Arts, Dave, and more.
One week after the fire broke out, Freeview has confirmed that firefighters have been able to access the base of the Bilsdale mast for the first time. According to the broadcaster, “The Fire Service have now been able to access the base of the Bilsdale mast for the first time since the fire broke out. This means the process of assessing the condition of the mast itself can begin. There are no findings to report at this stage and we will update as soon as we are able.”
Freeview hopes to restore normal service by August 28, 2021 with a stop-gap measure at the Bilsdale site. Due to the complexities of fixing the transmitter, a permanent fix might take a little longer. The fact that it has taken a week before the fire service were able to even gain access the base of the transmitter hints at the devastation caused by the blaze.
In the meantime, a temporary transmitter close to the Bilsdale site has been fitted to try to restore television and radio for as many people as possible. Clearly, this temporary solution doesn’t have the same scale as the original 300-metre transmitter, leaving some areas without any coverage.
Freeview has confirmed that work is currently underway at the Eston Nab transmitter to try to boost its signal to extend coverage to parts of Darlington, Richmond and Barnard Castle among others. As being well, this should complete by August 20.
Crucially, those living in areas covered by the Eston Nab transmitter might still find themselves unable to watch live television. Freeview is advising that a retune could be necessary to restore service to your set-top box.
“We would only recommend doing this if you are comfortable with how to do it from the instructional video,” Freeview has advised. “Please be advised that in the unlikely event that you do recover some channels, you would need to retune again when the Bilsdale temporary mast comes online.”
Freeview has a number of tutorials on how to automatically retune your Smart TV or set-top box, here.
Of course, many of the channels broadcast via Freeview are also available online, using services like Freeview Play, BBC iPlayer, ITV Hub, and more. If you usually tune-in to Freeview using a Smart TV, you’ll be able to access all of these apps. Alternatively, you can watch Freeview via its companion app on smartphones and tablets, which is available on iOS and Android.