Cookstown residents out of pocket as 4G signal kills Freeview TV

Some residents lost all Freeview TV signal
Some residents lost all Freeview TV signal

A number of Cookstown residents have been left frustrated after the introduction of 4G to the town meant saying goodbye to their Freeview TV.

After the problem emerged, an elderly couple on Morgan’s Hill Road said they were forced to pay over £100 to have their aerial system upgraded so they could regain access to free television channels.

But before the Freeview stopped working, they said they had received no warning it may happen.

“They put up one of those masts in the middle of the Morgan’s Hill Road and the TV stopped working,” the woman explained. “Nobody called, we absolutely got nothing.”

She said both her and her 83-year-old husband then had to pay £108 to have the problem fixed, but were offered just £50 compensation.

“This caused us a lot of stress, both of us. All we have is the TV,” she went on.

“We’re elderly and the big company came in and left all the televisions out and they don’t want to foot the bill.

“We had our TV fixed, we didn’t know anything. We’re too old for this... next thing we’ll have a heart attack. “

Mid Ulster UUP councillor Trevor Wilson told the Mail he had heard from others in the area who were suffering the same “terrible problems with the loss of signal to Freeview”.

“A lot of these people appear to be outside the range of where letter drops have taken place and stretch as far as the Morgan’s Hill Road to Coolmount,” he added. “It is imperative the company make sure everybody is aware of this.

“My biggest fear would be as they turn up the signal, that more people will be affected in the run up to Christmas.”

SDLP Councillor Tony Quinn said he too was contacted by a number of residents who had to take matters into their own hands as they were unaware of the possible signal loss. He said one man he helped paid £67 to have the problem fixed and was happy with the £50 compensation.

But he said people in other areas, should be aware that help is available.

“There are avenues for them to pursue to ask to be reimbursed,” he explained.

A spokesperson for at800, which is looking after those affected by the 4G roll-out on behalf of the government, said it had visited and called people in Cookstown. But it seems postcards were sent only to homes were a possible signal loss was “predicted”.

It should also be noted that the 4G masts are owned by mobile phone companies.

For the postcode BT80, the spokesperson said: “There were 1,319 mailings [and] as a result of that there were 73 calls, 12 engineer visits - during which eight of those 12 - it was confirmed that 4G was responsible for the TV interference. Also 13 filters have been sent.”

In relation to the elderly couple who lost TV signal, he said they were mailed about the possible interference but “that’s the reliability of the post”, and that they had accepted the offer of £50 compensation.

At800 are “sorry to hear that some of your readers have had issues with their TV reception,” he added.

Viewers that experience sudden TV interference - such as a blocky or frozen picture, no signal, or loss of sound or channels - can contact at800 for free on 0808 13 13 800.