IT HAS now been one month since the fire started at Bilsdale transmitter causing up to a million people across the North-East to lose signal to their radio and TV.

At the end of last  month it was announced that the BBC had bowed to pressure from The Northern Echo and put thousands of people in line for a refund.

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Although the climbdown was welcome news, it didn’t extend to all of those affected by the disruption at the mast and will only affect those without signal and BBC iPlayer for a month.

However, the new temporary mast is still yet to be built and as of today it is now a month since thousands of people have been without signal and without iPlayer.

A TV Licensing spokesperson said that after the intervention by the Echo, bosses had agreed to either refund people or give them an equivalent extension to their existing TV licence if they are without signal for a month or more.

They said: “Customers in the affected area who have been unable to receive TV coverage for over a month, and who are unable to view BBC programming through BBC iPlayer and on cable and satellite platforms, will be eligible for a refund or be offered a free extension to their TV Licence to cover the months affected.

 “We are continuing to work with our suppliers Arqiva to ensure services in the affected area are resumed as soon as possible.”

Read more: Bilsdale transmitter: Site operators to create helpline for those affected by no TV signal

Here’s how to claim compensation now that a month has passed:

  • Customers who are eligible will receive a free extension or refund – dependent on their payment plan – on their TV Licence equivalent to the time, in months, they have been unable to receive coverage
  • Customers will be able to request an extension to their licence through the TV Licensing website, or via calling TV Licensing call centre after 10th September
  • The addresses of customers who request a free TV Licence extension will be cross referenced with the postcodes which have been impacted by the coverage outage.
  • In line with our refunds policy, we are unable to issue a partial refund for a time period of less than a month.

Just this week site boss for Arqiva, Paul Donovan, issued an “unreserved apology” to those who had been without signal since the fire started and said that the new temporary mast would be built in just over three-weeks.

The new mast is set to bring coverage to 90 per cent of residents across the North East, however, 10 per cent of residents, tens of thousands of people, will still be without signal for the foreseeable future.

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Paul Donovan, chief executive of Arqiva, said: “Being as high as possible really makes sense, so we are putting in an 80-metre high site, that is going to involve a fleet of helicopters doing 100 trips, bringing up hundreds of tonnes worth of concrete and construction materials.

“As soon as we have permission, and we are ready to go for this, it will take 21 days for that to be in place.

“That should get us to 90 per cent coverage of the Bilsdale area, the remaining 10 per cent, we will try and mitigate that further by tuning the network we have built and by looking at the provision of some infill sites that will give temporary coverage, however there will still be some areas without.

“I am meeting with council leaders, with the leaders of not-for-profit associations like Age UK and housing associations so that we can have a discussion about what we can do to provide service for the most vulnerable people in society, who are in those non-coverable spots.”

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