Mendip TV Mast

The Mendip transmitting station is a broadcasting and telecommunications facility, situated on the summit of Pen Hill, part of the Mendip Hills range in Somerset, England, at 305 metres (1,001 ft) above sea level. The station is located in St Cuthbert Out civil parish in Mendip district. It includes a 281.6 metres (924 ft) tall mast, which was built in 1967 and weighs around 500 tonnes, and is the tallest structure in the southwestern England. The mast broadcasts digital television, FM analogue radio and DAB digital radio, and broadcast analogue colour television from 1967 until 2010.

Until 2008 a GRP aerial cylinder, which contains the analogue television transmitting antennas, was located at the top of the mast, bringing the total height of the structure to 305 metres (1,001 ft). This cylinder was replaced with a new antenna assembly, ready for digital switchover in 2010. The new assembly is slightly shorter than the previous cylinder with an overall mast height reduced from 305 metres (1,001 ft) to 293 metres (961 ft). With a mean height of 596 metres (1,955 ft) above sea level, the analogue television antennas were amongst the highest in the UK. The analogue television antennas were removed in 2010.

There are around twelve red aircraft warning lamps (six sets of two lights) up the mast with two lights on top. The lights were upgraded in February 2007 to comply with CAA 2000 Air Navigation Order, designed to prevent low flying aircraft from hitting the mast in adverse weather conditions.

The station is owned and operated by Arqiva (which acquired the National Grid Wireless, previously Crown Castle.)

The mast was entirely repainted during 2007.

The mast has become a well known and loved Mendip landmark and can provide some spectacular images when engulfed in fog or cloud or illuminated in full sunlight. It also provides a unique method of identifying the hills from a distance.

Television

The mast broadcasts digital television over a large area of the west of England, including Somerset, Wiltshire, North Somerset, Bath and North-East Somerset, Bristol, South Gloucestershire and Southern Gloucestershire. The station also covers the coastal areas of south east Wales with many households using it in preference to their more local station, Wenvoe. This is because prior to the digital switchover, Mendip carried Channel 4 and Channel 5, whereas Wenvoe only carried S4C, which broadcast a lot of Welsh language programming. Indeed many houses have aerials directed at both stations. Power on analogue transmissions was 500 kW (erp) on channels 1 to 4 but only 126 kW on Channel 5. The latter was transmitted outside of the original C/D grouping of the transmitter but most people in reasonable signal areas would receive it OK, see aerial gain curves. All 6 digital multiplexes were transmitted at 10 kW until switchover in 2010 when all the power was boosted to 100 kW and within the C/D band. Mendip's population coverage is around 1.5 million, although some homes in the immediate vicinity, such as those in Cheddar are unable to receive a signal due to being in the shadow of the Mendip Hills and therefore have to depend on local relays. In July 2007, Ofcom confirmed that Mendip would remain a C/D group transmitter at digital switchover.

Radio

Mendip broadcasts FM (analogue VHF) radio for BBC Somerset and the Severn Estuary Regional service of Galaxy 101 (now known as Kiss 101). It transmits high power Digital Audio Broadcasting (DAB) signals for Digital One and BBC National DAB multiplexes, as well as a lower power local service to Glastonbury for MXR Severn Estuary. These three multiplexes carry approximately ten digital radio stations each. An additional DAB multiplex, MuxCo Somerset, was awarded a licence in 2008 to broadcast local and national services to Somerset. As of 2010, it is expected that MuxCo Somerset will use the Mendip station, though transmissions have yet to commence.

Output
Radio
Television

Mendip radiated all 5 analogue services until the digital switchover of 7 April 2010. BBC Two was switched off on 24 March.

Since 7 April 2010, Mendip transmits higher powered multiplexes at 100 kW.

† Temporary frequencies until September 2011, power levels to be increased in early 2012.

Building Activity

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