Fire takes TV channels off-air

14 May 2010, 06:25 | Updated: 14 May 2010, 10:39

The company running the Oxford TV transmitter have said sorry after a fire left hundreds of thousands of people in Oxfordshire without any channels.

The flames - 150m up the mast at Beckley - took out all Freeview channels between 2.30pm and 9.30pm on Thursday 13 May 2010.  All Analogue Terrestrial channels were also lost, with the exception of Analogue Channel 5.

Eyewitnesses reported seeing smoke coming from the mast on Thursday afternoon.  Heart's been told the fire - which was put out on Thursday evening - is connected to engineering work that's been going on at the site, and that it started accidentally.

Work's been going on since February to get the Oxford transmitter ready for the switch-off of Analogue Terrestrial TV in spring 2011.

Site operator Arqiva have apologised for the inconvenience caused to viewers in Oxfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Berkshire, Northamptonshire and Wiltshire.  They've now switched services back on, but initially these will be at a lower power.

Arqiva say viewers may experience some short daytime interruptions to services so they can assess the damage.

Radio services like Heart and our sister station Classic FM - which both broadcast from Beckley - were largely unaffected by the fire, although all radio stations using the mast had their power reduced for a time.

Channels that were affected on Thursday 13 May 2010

All Freeview (Digital Terrestrial) channels, including BBC1, BBC2, ITV1, ITV2, ITV3, ITV4, C4, More4, E4, C5, etc.

Analogue Terrestrial BBC1, BBC2, ITV1, C4

Channels unaffected

Analogue Terrestrial C5

Analogue FM/AM Radio (eg. Heart Oxfordshire, Classic FM)

Digital (DAB) Radio

Satellite and cable transmissions (eg. Sky, Virgin Media)


More Oxfordshire News and Events



Are you annoyed you've been unable to watch TV?  Let us know by using the form below.

Please don't tell me that it was caused by workmen trying to weld two 4 x 2 joists together.
William Blackwood, Oxford

Good job I have Heart Radio on for most of the day. After trying to get BBC1 news etc. TV just came up 'no signal'. Then I heard on Heart Radio that there was a fire at the mast at Beckley. Thank you Heart Radio.
Linda Catton, Aylesbury

Well we think this is just a taste of things to come with the Digital switch over - Look how long its taking to get Free view HD in all areas the reception in the Oxford area is VERY low so maybe this fire will mean that a new mast will go up and improve the signal so not all bad lol
Linda Cullinane, Oxford

Do we get a days refund of our TV licence as they have not been able to provide a service that we have paid for???
Gareth Fulchair, Burford

Something that cannot be helped - but missing the soaps badly! running out of conversation now - ha & wishing we had sky digital.
Abigail Joyce, Wantage

Damn it, they've been working on this transmitter since February (without warning), so for the last four months we haven't been able to receive any of the ITV channels. Today (one the 13th) they were scheduled to switch off the reserve antenna and switch the new upgraded main transmitter back on. Guess they didn't test the upgraded new equipment properly, or their new wiring wasn't checked correctly. Brilliant, four months worth of "maintenance" with a reduced service for viewer, only to set fire to the damn thing at the last hurdle. Great work fellas, how many more months will we now be waiting to get our services back up and running. Hope the reserve transmitter is still on site and hasn't been sent somewhere else!
Christopher Potts, Aylesbury

Two issues:
- CBeebies better be back on for 6:30am tomorrow or our house will be a war zone
- It had better be back on for the World Cup.
I want some of my licence fee back !
Garry Wilson, Bicester

Its taken me 5 hours to realise it wasnt my telly and get info. from here that it was throughout oxfordshire. If the affected channels the last couple months havent been bad enough (and usually when the football was on!) we now have absolutely nothing! I dont suppose a refund from our license fee will following!!
Sian Ballantine, Didcot

Very annoyed at the lack of information at BBC website!
I had to dig deep to get a status update on our local mast but even so there was zero mention of total wipeout. They only say that there are scheduled works taking place!
Finally got the info via BBC local website and then found this link to HEART <3
Carl Faulds, Thame

I am furious about all the signals going. just as i was watching the 3.10 at york! Why can't they give us an update? Went to Currys to buy new ariel, to be told news! I think its a ploy to make everyone buy Sky or cable!
Judy Roe, Oxford

There has been problem after problem since they started work on the Beckley transmitter and now this. We are not at all impressed.
Sally Fitzgerald, Oxford

I am cheesed off because i am not been able to watch tv because of the fire
Thomas Cheeseward, Didcot

No soaps!!!!!!! Most disappointed!!!!!!!  Need it back for Friday 2100 BBC1 for Ashes to Ashes!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Sal Metcalf, Abingdon

Not very happy.they should have a back up transmitter to use in emergencies like this.i feel sorry for the old people who rely on their tv
Stuart Moaby, Lechlade

At last I can watch one of my dvd's! and dont have too watch another repeat.
Stuart Capon, Thame

We have lost ALL TV channels
Gordon Gray, Bicester