TV misery will continue for months

Heart's been told Freeview TV reception in the Oxfordshire area won't be back to normal until October.

It's after a fire on 13 May 2010 which destroyed the main Oxford TV transmitting antenna at Beckley.

It's been damaged beyond repair and the company who are fixing it say it'll take months to build a replacement.  They say a replacement has been ordered from a supplier and a realistic time-frame for the restoration of full TV services is the end of September.

Some viewers have been unable to receive some Freeview channels since February, when work began to get the Oxfordshire area ready for the Digital Switchover, which is due to happen in 2011.

Because of the fire, TV services in the Oxfordshire area will continue to come from a reserve antenna slightly further down the Beckley transmitter mast, like they have done since February.  This means some people on the edge of the Beckley coverage area will have reception problems.

Satellite and cable services like Sky and Virgin Media are unaffected.

Peter Heslop, Digital Switchover Programme Director at Arqiva, has been telling Heart:

“We are really sorry for the inconvenience caused to some viewers in the Oxford area following the fire at the Beckley mast. We understand how frustrating this must be for viewers. Arqiva manages over a thousand TV and radio transmission sites and incidents like this are extremely rare. Since the fire we have worked very hard to investigate what happened and work out how to restore full services as quickly as possible.

“We need to install and commission a replacement main antenna for the Beckley mast. The antenna is a very specialist piece of equipment that is built-to-order by our suppliers. It’s also a complex operation to mount the antenna at the top of the mast that is dependent on a numbers of factors outside of our control, including the weather. The end of September is a realistic timeframe for restoring full services but we will do everything we can to bring that date forward.”

TV Licensing say people who are still able to receive some TV services won't be eligible to a refund on their licence fee, even if you have been missing some channels as a result of the problems in Oxfordshire.

This is because you need to be licensed to watch any live TV in the UK - regardless of which channels you are able to receive.

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