Sutton Coldfield television transmitter

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Sutton Coldfield television transmitter

The Sutton Coldfield transmitting station is a broadcasting and telecommunications facility located in Sutton Coldfield, Birmingham, England.


On 17 December 1949, it became the first television transmitter to broadcast outside London and the Home Counties, bringing BBC Television to viewers outside of the south-east of England for the first time.

A new mast was built around 1983 to replace the original structure, primarily to support new mixed-polarisation FM antennas.


With a mast height of 245.0 metres (804 ft), it is one of the most powerful transmitters in England, powered at 1000 kilowatts ERP for analogue television and 250 kW for FM radio. The coverage extends as far south as Chipping Norton in Oxfordshire and as far north as Stoke-on-Trent. However, there are many relay transmitters around the Midlands that extend the coverage even further.

The transmitter broadcasts UHF analogue and six digital television multiplexes, as well as VHF or FM transmitters for the four BBC national stations, independent national station Classic FM, four local commercial radio stations (BRMB, 100.7 Heart FM, Kerrang 105.2 and Smooth Radio), the BBC's local service WM and DAB (Digital Audio Broadcasting – i.e. Digital Radio). Although many people think it broadcasts Five that programme (on UHF channel 37) is actually transmitted from Lichfield which is 4 miles (6.4 km) NE. When opened as a UHF TV transmitter Sutton Coldfield was a B group but with the advent of Digital broadcasting one of the 6 MUXES could not be fitted into the original B group due to co-channel considerations. Thus MUX6 is transmitted slightly out of band on CH55 though this would still be receivable on most B group aerials as this graph makes clear. In July 2007 it was confirmed by Ofcom that Sutton Coldfield would return to an undisputed a B group transmitter after DSO (Digital Switchover).

An MF transmitter for Radio Birmingham (now Radio WM) used to be installed at this site, but could only be operated at 5 kW instead of the planned 10 kW because of interference to video equipment on the site. It was eventually replaced with a transmitter at the nearby Langley Mill MF site owned by Arqiva. This transmitter is currently used for the BBC Asian Network.

The station is now owned by Arqiva.


The transmitter is served by a set of 35 local relays, delivering signals to areas shaded from it by hills. These are:

Digital switchover

Digital switchover is taking place at Sutton Coldfield in September 2011. In preparation for this, major engineering works have taken place at the station. The mast height has been increased from 245.0 metres (804 ft) to 270.5 metres (887 ft) and the UHF television antennas have been replaced. In order to accomplish this, a temporary 240.2 metres (788 ft) mast was constructed to broadcast all the area's services so that the main mast could be worked on 'cold'.

As at other stations, switchover is taking place on two dates: 7 September and 21 September. In the first stage:

  • BBC Two analogue on channel 40 closed down
  • Low-power BBC multiplex (Mux 1) on channel 41 closed down
  • Low-power SDN multiplex (Mux A) moved from channel 47 to channel 41 (until stage 2)
  • ITV1 analogue moved from channel 43 to channel 40 (until stage 2)
  • High-power multiplex BBC A started on channel 43

At stage 2, the remaining analogue and low-power digital transmissions, at both this site and the nearby Lichfield transmitting station, will close down and the other five high-power multiplexes will come on air.

Post-switchover multiplexes