AS THE Northern Echo continues to fight behind the scenes to encourage the BBC to issue full refunds to all those affected by the Bilsdale mast, here’s how events have unfolded since the start of the fire.

August 10  - Bilsdale TV mast on fire in North Yorkshire Moors

On this day the TV mast caught fire rendering the structure out of service and leaving up to a million without TV and Radio signal.

Read more: Homes lose TV reception as smoke billows from Bilsdale signal station fire

North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service said six appliances had been sent to tackle the blaze and firefighters said the fire included the tower itself.

August 11 – Fire extinguished but many still left without TV and radio signal

The fire was extinguished the next day on August 11 as the North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service worked with site operators to “bring the incident to a safe conclusion.”

Read more: Process started to “gradually restore services” after Bilsdale TV mast fire

August 12 – Teesside homes receive signal as services come back online

Homes across Teesside were reportedly receiving reception after some services came back online through the Eston Nab transmitter.

Read more: Some homes get signal as services come back online after Bilsdale mast fire

Viewers in Hartlepool, Redcar, and East Middlesbrough could now receive some services.

August 13 – Site operators move onto Phase two of plan to restore services

Site operators Arqiva announced that they were now moving onto phase 2 of their plan to restore services to the North East and North Yorkshire by erecting of an 80m temporary mast at the Bilsdale site.

Read more: Work to restore TV signal after Bilsdale mast fire expected to take two weeks

However, due to the site of Special Scientific Interest, the work legal process and construction of the mast would take up to two weeks and was set to be completed on August 28.

August 17 – Some viewers saw a significant improvement after two new developments

After the installation of a new 15m mast at a site in Arncliffe Wood and improvements to coverage from Eston Nab, many more viewers were able to receive signal.

Some viewers in Darlington, Stockton, Catterick, Leyburn, Masham and Ripon were now able to receive signal.

Read more: New update sees “significant improvements” for some viewers after TV mast fire​

Work continued on the temporary mast set to be built on the Bilsdale and site operators said they still “anticipated the temporary mast to be effective by August 28.”

August 19 – Planned power increase brings coverage to 250,000

Site operators Arqiva provided a further update, reportedly claiming that a “planned power increase” at their Eston Nab site that morning had brought more services to 250,000 households in total.

Read more: Mast latest: Transmitter bosses say increased power brings coverage to 250,000 homes

Arqiva also said that work to install additional equipment at Arncliffe Wood to further extend coverage was also in progress and was expected to be completed by that weekend.

August 20 – New Arncliffe Wood transmitter completed bringing signal to 200,000

Site operators completed another 15m mast at Arncliffe Wood, providing around 200,000 households with coverage for TV.

Another relay at Skinningrove was also restored on this day, providing more channels and further was expected to be completed early the next week and will provide these same households with BBC channels and HD variants.

August 24 – Delay for proposed mast on Bilsdale site

Arqiva announced, that despite doing “everything in its power to restore broadcast services as quickly and safely as possible, the legal process behind the building of the mast was “taking longer than anticipated” and was delayed.

Read more: Bilsdale TV mast latest: New temporary mast to be built on site is DELAYED

August 26 – More receive signal as more transmitters are turned on

In an update provided by BBC, more temporary masts were switched on allowing more areas to receive signal across the North East and North Yorkshire.

Temporary transmitters at Arncliffe Wood were switched on allowing some people in Darlington, Barnard Castle, Richmond, Leyburn, Catterick, Masham and Ripon to receive signal if people re-tune their TV.

Read more: Bilsdale TV mast latest: New advice after more transmitters switched on

According to the BBC, another four more relays were also brought back online bringing services to Skinningrove, West Burton, Aysgarth , Redmire, Fylingthrope and Sleights.

August 27 – BBC agree to refund licence fees after pressure from The Northern Echo

Thousands of people were put in line for a refund after the BBC bowed to pressure from The Northern Echo to help those worst affected by the Bilsdale mast.

Many people were in line for a partial refund or extension to their TV licence if they had been left without TV for more than a month and did not have access to BBC iPlayer.

Read more: Bilsdale Transmitter update: BBC to refund licence fee after residents left with no TV signal

Although the climb down was a welcome one, it did not extend to all those affected and The Northern Echo continued to pressure the BBC to issue full TV licence fee refunds.

September 2 – Pressure mounted on the BBC to issue full licence fee refunds

The Northern Echo’s fight for a fairer deal for ALL those affected by the fire at the Bilsdale transmitter was gathering pace, after it won the backing of a number of political heavyweights across the region.

Read more: Bilsdale transmitter: Pressure mounts on BBC to issue full licence fee refunds

The politicians were also joined by the chief executive of Age UK in North Yorkshire and Darlington, further increasing pressure on the BBC.

September 6 – Alex Cunningham called for a full Ofcom enquiry into Arqiva

Alex Cunningham announced that he had called for a “full inquiry” into, what he had called, the “wholly inadequate” response from site operator Arqiva after the ongoing issues at Bilsdale Transmitter.

Read more: Bilsdale transmitter: Mast operator SLAMMED for their response to loss of TV signal

Stockton North MP Alex Cunningham had written to Ofcom Chief Executive Dame Melanie Dawes highlighting his concerns about a lack of plan from Arqiva.

September 8 – TV signal was to return in three weeks

In a media briefing held at Bilsdale TV mast by site operators Arqiva it was announced that the construction of the new temporary mast, set to restore signal to 90 per cent of residents at the time, would be completed in three weeks.

Read more: Bilsdale transmitter update: TV signal to return in just over THREE WEEKS say site boss

Chief executive Arqiva, Paul Donovan, had said that permission to build the new temporary mast was just “days away” and it would complete construction 21 days after permission for the site had been secured.

September 10 – Arqiva boss apologises “unreservedly” to people affected

Writing exclusively to The Northern Echo Arqiva’s chief executive issued a frank apology in that day’s edition of The Northern Echo.

Read more: Bilsdale transmitter: Arqiva boss "I want to apologise once again to people affected"

September 14 – Arqiva begins construction of new temporary mast

Arqiva said a team of around 100 people began construction work at Bilsdale the day before with materials being transported into place and ground preparations beginning.

Read more: Bilsdale transmitter: Construction begins on NEW mast to restore TV signal

September 19 – Claims made that Arqiva’s axing of experienced staff delayed mast

Insiders said the workers that remain have “very little knowledge” of how to deal with such an incident, which they claim has contributed to delays in people’s TV signal returning.

Read more: Bilsdale transmitter: Claims Arqiva axing "experienced” staff has led to mast delays

Although they confirmed a restructure took place last year, Arqiva had strongly denied the claims, adding they have “highly skilled and experienced staff who are working around the clock to restore services to people across the region”.

September 20 – The temporary mast was set to be completed by October 5

Arqiva had begun lifting materials on to the Bilsdale site by helicopter as part of urgent work to build the new 80m-high temporary mast.

Read more: Bilsdale transmitter: Here's when work on the temporary mast will be finished

September 30 – Arqiva vow to do “whatever it takes” in exclusive talks with The Northern Echo

In an exclusive interview with The Northern Echo, chief executive of Arqiva, Paul Donovan, said that plans were in place to reduce the number of households affected by the disruption down to 10,000 at the least.

Read more: Bilsdale transmitter: Arqiva boss vows to do 'whatever it takes' to restore TV signal

October 1 – New mast to be delayed for over a week and new Arqiva offices

The switch on of the new temporary 80-metre mast was to be delayed for over a week it was announced.

Arqiva said high winds, low cloud and heavy rain in recent days had forced a delay to the proposed switch on date and the site operators then aimed to switch the mast on between October 13 and 19.

Read more: Bilsdale transmitter: New mast switch on DELAYED for over a week

It was also announced exclusively on this day that Arqiva revealed their plans to move into new offices based in Stockton in coming weeks.

October 4 – Arqiva reveal map of areas still without signal after mast switch on

In a media briefing, chief executive Paul Donovan, revealed a detailed map estimating which areas could still be without signal after the temporary 80-metre mast was switched on.

Read more: Bilsdale transmitter: These are the areas that could still be WITHOUT signal

In the same briefing that day it was also hinted that another temporary mast might have to be built during the winter as the 80-metre temporary mast may not survive the harsh weather.

October 6 – Old Bilsdale mast demolished as work continued on the new temporary mast

Site operators confirmed that the 314 metre Bilsdale mast had been felled in a controlled demolition earlier that day.

Following comprehensive investigations on the mast, the 500-tonne structure was considered beyond repair by the infrastructure company.

Read more: Bilsdale transmitter: Mast DEMOLISHED as work continues on new temporary mast

Arqiva said the structure was brought down as a result by a specialist team using controlled detonations.

October 11 – Freeview warn of signal disruption as power testing takes place

A spokesperson for the BBC had said the disruption, which took place Tuesday October 12, was to allow Arqiva to perform power testing in readiness for the new temporary mast coming into operation.

Read more: Bilsdale transmitter: Signals to be restored on Wednesday with new mast

A spokesperson for Freeview had said that thanks to “good weather conditions and a promising forecast for tomorrow” the switch on will go ahead for October 13.

October 18 – Arqiva announce £50 voucher to purchase streaming sticks

THOSE still without TV signal will now be able to purchase a TV streaming device using a £50 voucher through Arqiva’s new scheme.

Read more: Bilsdale transmitter: Arqiva issue £50 for streaming stick for "not-spot" areas

The scheme is the latest step in Project Restore, which is designed to help those affected by the fire at Bilsdale TV mast on August 10.

We issued advice on which streaming stick to purchase with the voucher

Read more: Bilsdale transmitter: What are the £50 streaming sticks people are being offered for no TV signal


Here at The Northern Echo we are still working hard in the background to pressure the BBC to issue full refunds to all those affected by the Bilsdale mast disruption.

Currently, we have renewed backing from local politicians such as Jacob Young, Kevin Hollinrake and more.

We are seeking talks with Nadine Dorries to encourage her to comment on the situation and pressure the BBC from her position.

Print Editor David Bourn appeared on Look North to talk about how The Northern Echo was campaigning and working behind the scenes to bring refunds to those affected.

On his appearance David Bourn said: “We at the Echo and everyone else we speak to, apart from the BBC, think it is fundamentally wrong to charge people for a service they can’t access.

“It wouldn’t happen if your mobile phone or wifi wasn’t working so why should this be any different? Never mind the fact that many of those affected are in vulnerable groups and in economically challenged areas.

“I was delighted when the BBC locally gave us the opportunity to state our case, but the intractable nature of the BBC’s position on this is as tone deaf as it is wrong.”

To continue delivering the quality journalism our readers deserve, we need your support. 

Editor Karl Holbrook said: “To invest in quality, independent journalism we urge our readers to subscribe. Every subscriber helps to fund this sort of journalism that our communities desperately need.”

For less than £2 per week, you can become a premium subscriber, which will give you access to all of our in-depth interviews, long-reads and features, that are only available to our subscribers. You will also be able to read more than 40 stories per month on our website – a feature only available to our subscribers.

We care about our communities and we want to continue serving our readers for years to come, so subscribe today.


Keep up to date with all the latest news on our website, or follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

You can also follow our dedicated North Yorkshire Facebook page for all the latest in the area by clicking here.

For all the top news updates from right across the region straight to your inbox, sign up to our newsletter here.

Have you got a story for us? Contact our newsdesk on or contact 01325 505054