RESIDENTS say more should have been done to help elderly and vulnerable people retune television sets after Freeview upgraded one of the region's major transmitters.

Hundreds of people ended up calling out TV engineers to help them tune into their favourite programmes when sets went blank last week. Some will now end up with bills of between £25 and £46 depending on where they lived. Up to 200 people around Northallerton and Bedale areas called out engineers.

Maxwell’s in Northallerton said it had more than 70 call outs on Friday and Saturday, while Scotts and JCTV in Bedale said they had up to 120 and were also helping people over the phone to retune.

One 92-year-old resident from Bedale said she felt not enough had been done to help older people especially to retune their sets. “I couldn’t do it and neither could a neighbour and family members tried too. We tried for ages and we had the instructions but just couldn’t get it sorted out so I ended up calling out Scotts and they were marvellous they did it extremely quickly, and were so nice about it but it does cost.

“I rely on my television for company and I think a lot of other people do too so when it went blank I was just totally mystified. There had been information put out on TV apparently but to be honest I hadn’t seen it so I was really surprised.

“And obviously a lot of other people couldn’t sort it out either because so many people had had to call out the engineers. I can see they might need to upgrade their services but more information, maybe even a leaflet drop would have been a good idea. There was a freephone number but we couldn’t get through on that.”

Another elderly resident added: “I had seen the notices but to be honest I hadn’t taken much notice, I didn’t think the whole screen would just go totally blank. I did eventually get through to the freephone number and they were very helpful but it was quite tricky. I was thinking I would have to go and buy a new television set. I do think they should have done more to get information out to people, putting notices in shops even or a leaflet drop when they are going to carry out the work.”

Freeview did not respond to requests for a comment, but the BBC website advised: “If you use a Freeview signal to watch TV, you will need to retune your equipment after the changes. There will be advanced warning and advice given locally before particular transmitters are switched. This is part of a UK-wide schedule of works to be done in stages over the next three years. For help with re-tuning or with services after the change, or if you have further questions contact the Freeview advice line on 0808 100 0288 or go to”