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Oxford transmitting station

The Oxford transmitting station (sometimes known as the Beckley transmitter[1]) is a broadcasting and telecommunications facility, situated on land 129.5 metres (425 ft) above Ordnance Datum (mean sea level) to the north east of the city of Oxford, in Oxfordshire, England (grid reference SP567105). It has a guyed steel lattice mast which is 154.4 metres (507 ft)[2] in height to the top of the main steel structure. The UHF television antenna, which consist of a vertical array of transmitting panels, is mounted above the steel structure. The total height of the mast to the top of this UHF antenna is 165.7 metres (544 ft).[3] It is owned and operated by Arqiva.

Oxford transmitting station
Oxford transmitter Oct 2007.jpg
Oxford Mast (in centre), October 2007
Oxford transmitting station is located in Oxfordshire
Oxford transmitting station
Oxford transmitting station (Oxfordshire)
Mast height165.7 metres (544 ft)
Coordinates51°47′26″N 1°10′45″W / 51.790556°N 1.179167°W / 51.790556; -1.179167Coordinates: 51°47′26″N 1°10′45″W / 51.790556°N 1.179167°W / 51.790556; -1.179167
Grid referenceSP567105
Built
  • 1962 (original)
  • 1968 (current)
BBC regionBBC South (Oxford)
ITV region
Local TV serviceThat's Oxfordshire

Contents

HistoryEdit

Analogue and Digital TelevisionEdit

  • The station was originally constructed by the BBC during the early 1960s to provide the BBC's VHF/FM national and regional radio networks and the BBC-TV service on 405-line VHF to the city of Oxford and the surrounding area. The mast carried a two-tier Band I array above a six-tier slot array for Band II FM. A smaller 150-foot tower in the western corner of the site carried receiving aerials.[4]
  • The station was extended in 1968, having been chosen as a suitable site for high power colour UHF transmissions, which entered service on 17 February 1968 carrying BBC Two. BBC One followed in May 1970 and ITV (ATV/Central) in June of the same year. Channel 4 was carried from launch day in November 1982. The effective radiated power (ERP) of these four analogue TV transmissions was 500 kW
  • In 1997, the station began analogue transmissions of Channel 5 at an ERP of only 40 kW. The lower power was necessary to avoid co-channel interference with other transmitters sharing this frequency in the surrounding areas.
  • The Oxford transmitter was included in the first 81 transmitters to carry the UK digital terrestrial television service when it was launched in the UK on 15 November 1998. Six digital multiplex signals were transmitted at low power from the station in addition to the five existing analogue television services.[5]
  • In 1999, the station began analogue transmissions of Oxford's RSL local channel, Six TV on low-power. At this time the Oxford transmitting site carried a total 12 television transmissions, six analogue services, and six digital multiplexes.
  • On 28 September 2011 all the analogue television services at Oxford transmitter were switched off as part of the UK Digital Switch Over project. Three of the frequencies (uhf channels 53, 57 and 60) that had been used for the analogue service were transferred to the digital television service at high power (100kW). The remaining three multiplex signals continued to be operated at lower power until the completion of switchover on 18 April 2012 when their power was increased to 50kW. At the same time the highest frequency multiplex, on uhf channel 62, was moved to channel 50 as part of the UK scheme to clear the 800 MHz frequency band for use by mobile 4G services.[5]
  • In December 2014 a low power local television multiplex was added to the site.[5]. In November 2015 the service had a soft launch as That's Oxfordshire with studios based in Abingdon
  • During 2015 two additional television multiplexes (known as Com7 and Com8) were broadcast from the Oxford site both using the DVB-T2 transmission system. This allowed a range of new channels to be broadcast to the Oxford area including the high definition versions of some of the channels only available at standard definition on the main Freeview service.[6]
  • In 2014 the UK telecommunications regulatory Ofcom decided that the 700MHz band should be cleared of digital television to be used for mobile broadband services by the summer of 2020. As a result the frequencies of the six main Freeview digital television transmissions were moved to lower frequencies during 2018 with the task being completed on 23 May 2018. The two additional services of Com7 and Com8 were moved temporarily into the 700 MHz band pending a resolution on their future location in the UK's digital television spectrum.[7][8]

[9]

Television Coverage areaEdit

The coverage area provided by the digital television service is roughly the same as that provided by the analogue service. The transmitting station covers Oxfordshire, western Buckinghamshire, eastern Gloucestershire and northern parts of Berkshire and Wiltshire.[10] It is sometimes called the Beckley mast, a reference to an adjacent village, or the Ot Moor mast, this referring to the area on which it is located.

From 2006, a new non-franchise regional news area ITV Thames Valley was provided from the ITV Meridian studios at Whiteley, Hampshire. This programme was replaced in February 2009, in a cost-saving reorganisation, by ITV Meridian's Meridian Tonight. However, Central Independent Television remains the licensee and broadcaster.

Analogue RadioEdit

  • The Oxford site started transmitting four BBC VHF/FM services (the BBC Light Programme, BBC Third Programme, BBC Home Service, Midlands, and BBC Home Service, South & West) on 28th May 1962.[11] The transmissions were horizontally polarised as they were intended mainly for fixed rooftop aerials. With an ERP of 22kW the transmitter covered the whole of Oxfordshire and much of the surrounding adjacent counties.[10]
  • In early 1970 the BBC Home Service South & West region transmission on 95.85MHz was closed down in prior to the introduction of BBC Radio Oxford which launched on 29 October 1970 on 95.0 MHz. The frequency was changed to 95.2 MHz on 26 June 1973 as part of a reorganisation of local radio frequencies in and around the London area.[10]
  • In the late 1980s the BBC Radio 1 service was added to site to be followed by Classic FM in the mid 1990s. During the same period the FM transmitting antennas were replaced by a mixed polarised antenna better suited to providing a service to portable and car aerials. To maintain the coverage of the horizontally polarised signal the transmitter power was roughly doubled to give an ERP of 46kW.
  • On 15 September 1989 the independent local radio station Fox FM was launched on 102.6 MHz at a ERP of 9kW. In 2005 the station became a part of GCap Media and in March 2009 the station was rebranded to Heart Oxfordshire.
  • The Oxford site transmitted the AM service of Virgin Radio from its launch on 30 April 1993 on a frequency of 1197kHz. The service is radiated from a vertical antenna which is supported by a slopping wire from the Oxford mast.[12]

Digital RadioEdit

  • When the BBC launched its Digital Radio national service on 27 December 1997 the Oxford transmitter was included in the network to provide coverage to Oxfordshire and to boost the coverage to surrounding areas. The first national commercial network, Digital One, was added to the transmitter on 23 September 1999 and a second national commercial network, Sound Digital on 29 February 2016.[13]
  • On 21 December 2012 Now Digital, a local digital radio multiplex owned and operated by Arqiva, started transmission from the Oxford site. It provides a mix of local and national radio stations to a population of some 610,000 in the city of Oxford and surrounding area.[14]


May 2010 IncidentEdit

 
Replacement UHF Transmitting antenna being installed in August 2010

On 13 May 2010 the digital and analogue television transmitters (except Channel 5) went off the air at about 13:20 UTC following an incident when smoke was seen drifting from the top of the mast. The fire service reported that there had been an intense fire and that the cause was unknown. Engineering work to reinstate service began once fire crews left and the mast was made safe. Transmissions were restored via the reserve transmitter at reduced power by 20:30 UTC.[1][15]

The incident occurred during testing of a new main antenna which had been installed during the previous few months in readiness for the proposed digital switchover. Investigation into the cause of the fire established that it was damaged beyond repair and a replacement was installed by the end of September 2010.[1][16]

Services transmitted from the Oxford site as of June 2018 – listed by frequencyEdit

Analogue radio (AM Mediumwave)Edit

Frequency kW Service
1197 kHz 0.25 Absolute Radio

Analogue radio (FM VHF)Edit

Frequency kW Service
89.5 MHz 46 BBC Radio 2
91.7 MHz 46 BBC Radio 3
93.9 MHz 46 BBC Radio 4
95.2 MHz 5.8 BBC Radio Oxford
99.1 MHz 46 BBC Radio 1
101.3 MHz 46 Classic FM
102.6 MHz 9 Heart Oxfordshire

Digital radio (DAB)Edit

Frequency Block kW[17] Operator
211.648 MHz 10B 5 Oxfordshire (Now Digital)
216.928 MHz 11A 10 Sound Digital
222.064 MHz 11D 7.8 Digital One
225.648 MHz 12B 10 BBC National DAB

[13]

Digital Television from 23 May 2018Edit

Frequency UHF kW Operator System
482.000 MHz 22 10 Local 1 (That's Oxfordshire) DVB-T
538.000 MHz 29 50 SDN DVB-T
554.000 MHz 31 50 Arqiva B DVB-T
602.000 MHz 37 50 Arqiva A DVB-T
634.000 MHz 41 100 BBC A DVB-T
658.000 MHz 44 100 Digital 3&4 DVB-T
674.000 MHz 46 10 Local 2 (not yet on air) DVB-T
682.000 MHz 47 100 BBC B DVB-T2
746.000 MHz 55 16.4 Com7 DVB-T2
754.000 MHz 56 17.1 Com8 DVB-T2

Historical Analogue and Digital television transmissions listed by frequencyEdit

Analogue Television 1962 – 1998Edit

29 January 1962 – 17 February 1968Edit

Frequency VHF kW Service
51.75 MHz 2 0.65 BBC-1 (BBC-TV until 1964)

17 February 1968 – June 1970Edit

Frequency VHF UHF kW Service
51.75 MHz 2 0.65 BBC-1
807.25 MHz 63 500 BBC2

June 1970 – 2 November 1982Edit

Frequency VHF UHF kW Service
51.75 MHz 2 0.65 BBC-1
759.25 MHz 57 500 BBC1
783.25 MHz 60 500 Central (ATV until 1982)
807.25 MHz 63 500 BBC2

2 November 1982 – 3 January 1985Edit

Frequency VHF UHF kW Service
51.75 MHz 2 0.65 BBC-1
727.25 MHz 53 500 Channel 4
759.25 MHz 57 500 BBC1
783.25 MHz 60 500 Central
807.25 MHz 63 500 BBC2

3 January 1985 – 30 March 1997Edit

Frequency UHF kW Service
727.25 MHz 53 500 Channel 4
759.25 MHz 57 500 BBC1
783.25 MHz 60 500 Central
807.25 MHz 63 500 BBC2

30 March 1997 – 15 November 1998Edit

Frequency UHF kW Service
695.25 MHz 49 40 Channel 5
727.25 MHz 53 500 Channel 4
759.25 MHz 57 500 BBC One
783.25 MHz 60 500 Central
807.25 MHz 63 500 BBC Two


Analogue and digital television 1998 – 2011Edit

15 November 1998 – June 1999Edit

Frequency UHF kW Service System
538.000 MHz 29 8 Arqiva (Mux D) DVB-T
578.000 MHz 34 10 BBC (Mux 1) DVB-T
690.000 MHz 48 8 Arqiva (Mux C) DVB-T
695.25 MHz 49 40 Channel 5 PAL System I
713.833 MHz 51- 6 SDN (Mux A) DVB-T
721.833 MHz 52- 6 BBC (Mux B) DVB-T
727.25 MHz 53 500 Channel 4 PAL System I
759.25 MHz 57 500 BBC One PAL System I
783.25 MHz 60 500 Central PAL System I
807.25 MHz 63 500 BBC Two PAL System I
850.000 MHz 68 10 Digital 3&4 (Mux 2) DVB-T

June 1999 – April 2009Edit

Frequency UHF kW Service System
538.000 MHz 29 8 Arqiva (Mux D) DVB-T
578.000 MHz 34 10 BBC (Mux 1) DVB-T
679.25 MHz 47 Six TV (The Oxford Channel until 2003) PAL System I
690.000 MHz 48 8 Arqiva (Mux C) DVB-T
695.25 MHz 49 40 Channel 5 PAL System I
713.833 MHz 51- 6 SDN (Mux A) DVB-T
721.833 MHz 52- 6 BBC (Mux B) DVB-T
727.25 MHz 53 500 Channel 4 PAL System I
759.25 MHz 57 500 BBC One PAL System I
783.25 MHz 60 500 ITV1 (Central until 2002) PAL System I
807.25 MHz 63 500 BBC Two PAL System I
850.000 MHz 68 10 Digital 3&4 (Mux 2) DVB-T

April 2009 – 14 September 2011Edit

Frequency UHF kW Service System
538.000 MHz 29 8 Arqiva (Mux D) DVB-T
578.000 MHz 34 10 BBC (Mux 1) DVB-T
690.000 MHz 48 8 Arqiva (Mux C) DVB-T
695.25 MHz 49 40 Channel 5 PAL System I
713.833 MHz 51- 6 SDN (Mux A) DVB-T
721.833 MHz 52- 6 BBC (Mux B) DVB-T
727.25 MHz 53 500 Channel 4 PAL System I
759.25 MHz 57 500 BBC One PAL System I
783.25 MHz 60 500 ITV1 PAL System I
807.25 MHz 63 500 BBC Two PAL System I
850.000 MHz 68 10 Digital 3&4 (Mux 2) DVB-T

14 September 2011 – 28 September 2011Edit

BBC Two closed on UHF 63 on 14 September 2011. Channel 4 temporarily moved into its frequency at the time to allow BBC A to launch on UHF 53. The remaining analogue signals ceased on 28 September.

Frequency UHF kW Service System
538.000 MHz 29 8 Arqiva (Mux D) DVB-T
578.000 MHz 34 8 Arqiva (Mux C) DVB-T
695.25 MHz 49 40 Channel 5 PAL System I
713.833 MHz 51- 6 SDN (Mux A) DVB-T
721.833 MHz 52- 6 BBC (Mux B) DVB-T
730.166 MHz 53+ 100 BBC A DVB-T
759.25 MHz 57 500 BBC One PAL System I
783.25 MHz 60 500 ITV1 PAL System I
807.25 MHz 63 500 Channel 4 PAL System I
850.000 MHz 68 10 Digital 3&4 (Mux 2) DVB-T

Digital television 2011 – 2018Edit

28 September 2011 – 18 April 2012Edit

Frequency UHF kW Operator System
730.166 MHz 53+ 100 BBC A DVB-T
746.000 MHz 55 12.5 Arqiva B DVB-T
762.000 MHz 57 100 BBC B DVB-T2
777.833 MHz 59- 12.5 Arqiva A DVB-T
785.833 MHz 60- 100 Digital 3&4 DVB-T
802.000 MHz 62 12.5 SDN DVB-T

18 April 2012 – 2015Edit

Arqiva A & B and SDN increased to 50 kW on 18 April 2012, after completion of the digital switchover at Crystal Palace transmitting station. SDN was moved to UHF 50 from UHF 62 due to the clearance of the 800MHz Band.

Frequency UHF kW Operator System
706.000 MHz 50 50 SDN DVB-T
730.166 MHz 53+ 100 BBC A DVB-T
746.000 MHz 55 50 Arqiva B DVB-T
762.000 MHz 57 100 BBC B DVB-T2
777.833 MHz 59- 50 Arqiva A DVB-T
785.833 MHz 60- 100 Digital 3&4 DVB-T

2015 – 23 May 2018Edit

Frequency UHF kW Operator System
538.000 MHz 29 10 Local DVB-T
554.000 MHz 31 16.4 Com7 DVB-T2
602.000 MHz 37 17.1 Com8 DVB-T2
706.000 MHz 50 50 SDN DVB-T
730.166 MHz 53+ 100 BBC A DVB-T
746.000 MHz 55 50 Arqiva B DVB-T
762.000 MHz 57 100 BBC B DVB-T2
777.833 MHz 59- 50 Arqiva A DVB-T
785.833 MHz 60- 100 Digital 3&4 DVB-T


See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b c "Thousands get TV back after fire". BBC. 13 May 2010.
  2. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 25 September 2006. Retrieved 25 September 2006.
  3. ^ "The Transmission Gallery Oxford". mb21.co.uk. 2018. Retrieved 20 June 2018.
  4. ^ "Planning Application P60/M0403". Government of the United Kingdom.
  5. ^ a b c "Full Freeview on the Oxford (Oxfordshire, England) transmitter". UK Free TV. 2018. Retrieved 21 June 2018.
  6. ^ "COM7 and COM8". a516digital. 2018. Retrieved 25 June 2018.
  7. ^ "700 MHz clearance programme timescale review" (PDF). Ofcom. 2017. Retrieved 15 June 2018.
  8. ^ "700MHz clearance". DigitalUK. 2018. Retrieved 14 June 2018.
  9. ^ "Trade and Industry Information, 700MHz Clearance Events, Central Region" (PDF). DigitalUK. 2018. Retrieved 25 June 2018.
  10. ^ a b c "The transmission gallery: Oxford coverage area maps". mb21. 2018. Retrieved 25 June 2018.
  11. ^ "Oxford - historic and re-engineering of Band II". mb21. 2018. Retrieved 3 July 2018.
  12. ^ "The transmission gallery: Oxford, The Virgin Radio wire aerial". mb21. 2018. Retrieved 26 June 2018.
  13. ^ a b "Oxford (Oxfordshire, England) DAB transmitter". UK Free TV. 2018. Retrieved 26 June 2018.
  14. ^ "DAB Radio and multiplexing services in Oxfordshire". Ayqiva. 2018. Retrieved 26 June 2018.
  15. ^ "The transmission gallery: Oxford, DSO3: Fire at Oxford". mb21. 2018. Retrieved 26 June 2018.
  16. ^ "The transmission gallery: DSO5, Replacing the antenna at Oxford". mb21. 2018. Retrieved 26 June 2018.
  17. ^ Radio Listeners Guide 2010

External linksEdit