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Temporary mast planned to keep Freeview on air in Yorkshire

A temporary mast could be built next to Yorkshire's iconic Emley Moor TV transmitting station, as part of essential work to clear frequencies for mobile broadband services.

Transmitter infrastructure company Arqiva has applied for permission to erect a 310 metre high temporary mast next to the current site, which will enable Freeview broadcasts to continue to 1.7 million homes across the Yorkshire TV region, while changes are made to the current broadcast antennae in the next few years.

It's part of a programme to move Freeview broadcasts off the 700MHz frequency band to make way for more mobile broadband services by 2020. Broadcast regulator Ofcom has recently indicated that there will need to be some changes to the frequencies used by Freeview by the end of next year, with full clearance of frequencies in the 700MHz band to be complete during 2020. As a result, changes to the antenna now need to be made.

Explaining the need for a temporary mast to planning officers at Kirklees Council, Arqiva said "for 700MHz clearance, existing digital antenna on the existing mast cannot be simply powered down as the existing equipment in people's homes will not be able to decode a weaker signal and the TV picture will simply not be available. Accordingly, at Emley Moor a temporary mast is needed of a similar height to the existing permanent mast, in order to maintain the broadcast signal across the same geographical area and retain the existing signal quality."

For viewers, the temporary mast would allow them to continue watching Freeview services without having to change their viewing equipment or aerials. Temporary masts have been used successfully at other transmitter sites across the UK during the past decade as masts have been upgraded for digital TV services. A public consultation on the proposed mast runs until 18th April.

Late last year, permission was granted by Durham County Council for a similar temporary mast to serve Freeview users in and around Durham, Gateshead, Newcastle upon Tyne and Sunderland while work takes place at the Pontop Pike transmitter to enable 700MHz clearance.

60 years of TV from Emley Moor
In November, the site will celebrate 60 years of being Yorkshire's prime TV transmitter site. The first mast at the site went into service on the 3rd November 1956, with a second mast following in 1964 - subsequently falling down in icy conditions in 1969. Following the collapse of the original mast, improvements were made to the design of transmitter masts across the UK. In the case of Emley Moor, a departure to the usual design was made to appease worried locals, resulting in the reinforced concrete tower now in place.