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Update on transmitter radiation patterns (BBC FOI request)

The BBC have responded to my request for an update to the sites that they have provided the "radiation patterns" for.

The BBC have responded to my request for an update to the sites
published on UK Free TV

I wrote to the BBC under the "Freedom of Information Act" in 2009 to ask them to disclose the radiation patterns used by the transmitters in the UK. This information shows the level of signal reduction from each transmitter in each direction, as the signals are not always broadcast at their full power (the "ERP") in all directions.

The response, which I posted here on 5th September 2009 can be see here: BBC Freedom Of Information - transmitter radiation patterns and these are now included in the transmitter pages on UK Free TV, as shown in this example:

Also provided was some information on the pre-switchover patterns for certain transmitters, see BBC FOI transmitter data - first draft from 12th September 2009.

I recently wrote again to the BBC asking them to disclose the information for the masts that were "redacted" (withheld) in the original request. These masts are listed at the foot of this article.

The response from the BBC today is shown below:

British Broadcasting Corporation Room 2252, White City, 201 Wood Lane, London W12 7TS Telephone 020 8008 2883 Fax 020 8008 2398 Email

Information Policy & Compliance

6 March 2012

Dear Brian,

Freedom of Information Act 2000 - RFI20120153

Thank you for your request under the Freedom of Information Act (the Act) of 9 February 2012, seeking the information which we had withheld from our earlier response to your previous request under the Act of 3 August 2009 (our reference RFI20091165).

In our reply to RFI20091165, we stated that we expected international negotiations regarding coordination of certain of the antenna patterns which you had requested to continue until the end of 2012. I am advised, however, that Ofcom has informed our spectrum planning team that these negotiations have not yet concluded and may in some cases still have some months to run.

Since we last wrote to you regarding this matter, it has also become clear that a further clearance of spectrum currently allocated to DTT is to be expected, for which international negotiations may start shortly. Therefore, I am afraid that it appears to us that negotiations surrounding these have not concluded.

For that reason, therefore, I regret that we must continue to withhold the data for these sites under the exemption in section 27(1) of the Act ("International Relations").

As set out in our response to RFI20091165, the exemption referred to above is a qualified exemption, which means that it must be tested against the public interest in favour of disclosure.

We note that for a number of transmitter sites (that is, all those marked as "Redacted" in the spreadsheet accompanying our last response to you), the exact radiation pattern that is to be employed is still subject to, or is likely to require, negotiations between HM Government (represented by Ofcom) and the equivalent administrations in these neighbouring countries.

The arguments in favour of disclosure are:

  • the antenna systems used for television transmission are, in part, funded by public money through the BBC's transmission contracts with Arqiva and the public has an interest in understanding what that money has been spent on; and
  • disclosure of the antenna radiation patterns would enable certain members of the public with specialist knowledge to gain a more accurate understanding of reception conditions in their area.

However, the arguments against disclosure of the characteristics of particular antenna systems are:

  • disclosure of the antenna radiation patterns into the public domain could lead to these being available to foreign administrations, which would substantially weaken HM Government's negotiating position with respect to international frequency clearance;
  • a weaker negotiating position for HM Government may lead to additional cost for the broadcasters (where antenna systems have to be re-built as a result of international coordination) and lower coverage for viewers (where antenna systems have to be restricted in order to protect foreign transmissions); and
  • the BBC is required to provide coverage of its services on digital terrestrial television to a certain proportion of the population by the completion of switchover and a failure or suboptimal result from international co-ordination may harm the BBC's ability to meet this obligation.

Therefore, I am satisfied that in all the circumstances of the case, the arguments against disclosure outweigh the public interest in disclosure for some of the antenna radiation patterns.

Appeal Rights

If you are not satisfied with this response you have the right to an internal review by a BBC senior manager or legal adviser. Please contact us at the address below, explaining what you would like us to review and including your reference number. If you are not satisfied with the internal review, you can appeal to the Information Commissioner. The contact details are: Information Commissioner's Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire, SK9 5AF, telephone 01625 545 700 or see

Yours sincerely,

Tom Everest
BBC Distribution

I am considering if making an appeal is the best course of action, or perhaps waiting until the end of 2012, when the mentioned negotiations may be complete.

Redacted masts

Aldeburgh Alderney Amlwch Angus Arfon Armagh Ballantrae Barrow Town Hall Barskeoch Hill Beacon Hill Beary Peark Beer Belcoo Belmont Benagh Berrynarbor Betws Y Coed Bevendean Bexhill Uhf Bilsdale Bincombe Hill Black Hill Black Mountain Blackwaterfoot Blaenplwyf Bluebell Hill Bowmore Hp Bowmore Vp Bow Street Brading Bridport Brighstone Brighton Central Brixham Broad Haven Brougher Mountain Budleigh Salterton Burnham Burnham On Crouch Bushmills Caernarfon Caldbeck Caldbeck Scotland Cambret Hill Camlough Campbeltown Caradon Hill Carmel Castlebay Castlederg Cemaes Cerne Abbas Chambercombe Charmouth Chartham Chatton Chideock Vp Clachan Clacton Claudy Clennon Valley Clettraval Coldean Combe Martin Conway Coombe Corfe Castle Countisbury Craigkelly Crystal Palace Dalton Darvel Darwen Dawlish Derrygonnelly Divis Dolybont Douglas Dover Dover Town Downderry Durris Eastbourne Eastbourne Old Town East Dean Ederny Eitshal Elham Emley Moor Exeter St Thomas Felixstowe Fenton Ffestiniog Findon Fishguard Folkestone Fremont Point Girvan Glenelly Valley Glengorm Glenmaye Gorey Gortnalee Gosforth Great Yarmouth Greenhill Guildford Gulval Hangleton Hannington Hartland Haslingden Hastings Hastings Old Town Haverfordwest Heathfield Hollington Park Horn Street Huntshaw Cross Hythe Ilfracombe Ipswich Stoke Isles Of Scilly Ivybridge Jurby Kendal Kilbride South Uist Kilkeel Killowen Mountain Kilmelford Kilvey Hill Kimmeragh Kingsbridge Kirkoswald Hp Kirkoswald Vp Lancaster Larne Laxey Leitrim Les Touillets Lethanhill Lewes Hp Lewes Vp Limavady Lisbellaw Llanddona Llandecwyn Llandrindod Wells Llandyfriog Llangranog Lochmaddy Hp Londonderry Long Mountain Looe Lowestoft Luccombe Lulworth Luscombe Valley Lydden Lyminge Margate Mendip Mevagissey Midhurst Millbrook Vp Moel Y Parc Morfa Nefyn Muldonagh Mynydd Pencarreg Newcastle Newhaven Newport Bay Newry North Newry South Newton Ferrers Occombe Valley Olivers Mount Overstrand Ovingdean Vp Oxford Patcham Penaligon Down Penmaen Rhos Penryn Perranporth Piddletrenthide Pinwherry Plumbridge Plympton Polperro Pontop Pike Poole Port Ellen Porthtowan Port Isaac Portnahaven Portpatrick Portslade Port St Mary Praa Sands Presely Preston Ramsgate Redruth Reigate Ridge Hill Ridge Hill West Roose Hp Rosemarkie Rosneath Vp Rostrevor Rothesay Rouncefall Rowridge Rowridge Vp Rumster Forest Rye Salcombe Salisbury Saltdean Sandy Heath Scoval Vp Sedlescombe Selkirk Sidmouth Skriaig Slapton South Knapdale St Austell St Brelades Bay St Davids St Dogmaels Steyning St Helier St Just Stockland Hill Stokeinteignhead Storeton Storeton Wales St Peter Port Strabane Stranraer Sudbury Sutton Coldfield Tacolneston Teignmouth The Wrekin Torosay Torquay Town Torteval Trefilan Trefin Trefor B Tunbridge Wells Ventnor Waltham Wells Next The Sea Wenvoe Westbourne West Kilbride West Kirby West Runton Westward Ho Weymouth Whitehaven Whitehawk Hill Winterborne Sticklan Winter Hill Woodbridge Woolacombe Woolwich Workington

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Friday, 15 June 2012
Andy Ripley

7:06 PM

There's software out there that models propagation and gives a likely coverage, however they are not using a single omnidirection antenna, they are using array and they don't (as I have found) radiate evenly. It's this vital information that they hold back.
Yes it would be nice to have it, but it would show possibly a nice null on several of the muxes in my direction from Bilsdale. The signal strength is well down on several muxes even comparing them on the Spectrum Analyser connected to the antenna.

link to this comment
Andy Ripley's 32 posts GB flag
Andy's: mapA's Freeview map terrainA's terrain plot wavesA's frequency data A's Freeview Detailed Coverage
Monday, 23 July 2012
5:51 PM

I cannot understand eg Norfolk data being redacted seeing as Holland went Digital in 2007. I could understand Brougher vis a vis Republic of Ireland ...but Brougher was not redacted.

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Tumbly's 1 post IE flag
Friday, 14 December 2012
ron brown
8:50 AM

I find it annoying, to say the least, to think of all the licence-payers (including so many pensioners who assume that they can truat their TV signal to be of consistent high-quality) who have paid lots of money to the "digital aerial" cowboys. Only to find in many cases that their received signal is only marginally improved by a more powerful aerial. becasue the power sent in their direction is nowadays too poor.
That the BBC, and perhaps Ofcom too, try to keep knowledge of the full details of all this from us is astounding.
We need Questions in Parliament. And pronto.

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ron brown's 5 posts GB flag
ron's: mapR's Freeview map terrainR's terrain plot wavesR's frequency data R's Freeview Detailed Coverage
ron brown
9:16 AM

I've downloaded the ITU spreadsheet. Thanks to Mike Dimmick for the URL which still works.

Which code applies to the UK?

Talk about obscure bureaucracy!!
Vast expense in making such documents (and making them almost unreadable) and then refusing to allow us Electors and Licence Payers knowledge of what's going on????
Amazing if it were not the norm.

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ron brown's 5 posts GB flag
ron's: mapR's Freeview map terrainR's terrain plot wavesR's frequency data R's Freeview Detailed Coverage

10:57 AM

ron brown: I do find it odd that you say "the power sent in their direction is nowadays too poor" when you are in an exceptionally good reception area for one of the most powerful transmitters in the country (at Sutton Coldfield).

Can I suggest you have a look at Freeview signals: too much of a good thing is bad for you | - 10 years of independent, free digital TV advice ?

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Briantist's 38,915 posts GB flag
ron brown
11:39 AM

Briantist: Thanks for your reply.

I own a variable attenuator too.....and a choice of aerials.
>>The received signal is poor.<<

It is abundantly obvious that my particular part of Tamworth suffers from poor reception (now). Pre-digital (in fact, pre-HD turn-on too) we could receive TV on a coat-hanger improvised aerial.
Then the "experts" decided to "improve" things.....

All around me, neighbours have had to put up fringe-area, multi-element aerials - at huge expense - just to get a watchable signal. Everyone agreed that this was all their OWN fault for not having a "digital Aerial"....

I am 6 miles from the transmitter!!!!
Many neighbours - after spending fortunes to fix "their" poor aerial systems switched to cable, Sky or Satellite to resume normal service.

Too often, people jump in and say we're wrong.. "There's nothing wrong with the transmitted signal"."What you need is a proper Digital aerial" and so on...

All of us, so wrong, ALL of the time???
I smell cover-up.

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ron brown's 5 posts GB flag
ron's: mapR's Freeview map terrainR's terrain plot wavesR's frequency data R's Freeview Detailed Coverage

1:29 PM

ron brown: Your switchover was in September last year - have you had problems since then?

Can I assume you've had a qualified aerial installer/engineer out to check on this problem? And with all of your neighbours also having problems, you have got in touch with the BBC (via http://www.radioandtvhelp…uk)?

And I do hope you realise there's no such thing as a digital aerial...

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Michael's 358 posts GB flag
ron brown
7:10 PM

I was being satirical...
I have a doctorate in physics... and I can tell an installation engineer form a "you need a digotal aerial" cowboy. Pity the old folks around here can't.

BBC ignore all such complaints, won't even give an email address you can reply to to state your case. Too busy paying 200+ people more than we pay the PM !!!!!
That says it all.

It's their "no reply" website email or nothing.
Some Licence Fee value....
My MP is starting to listen though.....

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ron brown's 5 posts GB flag
ron's: mapR's Freeview map terrainR's terrain plot wavesR's frequency data R's Freeview Detailed Coverage
Monday, 3 June 2013
11:34 PM

I had a message to retune my tv last week, everything was great until then. Now the main northwest BBC channels, itv and channel 4 are very poor signal strength and keep breaking up and I am also picking up Welsh program's also very poor signal strength. So I can't watch any of the main channels on freeview, but the signal quality for the likes of film 4 and yesterday are full strength?

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Julie's 1 post GB flag
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