Sutton Coldfield transmitting station
|Location||Sutton Coldfield, Birmingham England|
|Mast height||270.5 metres (887 ft)|
|BBC region||BBC West Midlands|
|ITV region||ITV Central|
|Local TV service||Big Centre TV|
The Sutton Coldfield transmitting station is a broadcasting and telecommunications facility located in Sutton Coldfield, Birmingham, England. It has broadcast terrestrial television signals every day since 1949 and is thus the oldest working television transmitting station in the world. In terms of population covered, it is the second most important transmitter in the UK, after Crystal Palace in London.
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.
A 240.2m temporary mast was erected alongside the original mast in the spring of 2009 so that work could proceed in raising the height of the original mast by 31m (to a total height of 270.5m). After four years in service and almost a year after the completion of digital switch over, the temporary mast was removed during August 2013.
All analogue TV transmissions ceased on 21 September 2011, as part of the digital switchover. This made it one of the oldest transmitters in the country to formally end analogue broadcasts.
With a mast height of 270.5 metres (887 ft), it is one of the most powerful transmitters in England, powered at 200 kilowatts ERP for digital 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 coverage even further.
The transmitter broadcasts six digital television multiplexes, as well as VHF or FM transmitters for the four BBC national stations; the BBC's local service BBC WM on FM and DAB; independent national station Classic FM and local commercial radio stations Free Radio, Heart, Absolute Radio (previously Kerrang 105.2 until June 2013, and Planet Rock until September 2015) and Smooth Radio.
When opened as a UHF TV transmitter Sutton Coldfield was a B grouping, but with the advent of Digital broadcasting one of the six muxes could not be fitted into the original B group due to co-channel considerations. Thus mux 6 was transmitted slightly out of band on UHF Channel 55, 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 B group transmitter post-Digital Switchover, a process that was completed on 21 September 2011.
An MF transmitter for Radio Birmingham (now BBC 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.
|88.3 MHz||250||BBC Radio 2|
|90.5 MHz||250||BBC Radio 3|
|92.7 MHz||250||BBC Radio 4|
|95.6 MHz||11||BBC WM|
|96.4 MHz||10||Free Radio|
|97.9 MHz||250||BBC Radio 1|
|100.1 MHz||125||Classic FM|
|100.7 MHz||11||Heart West Midlands|
|105.2 MHz||11||Absolute Radio|
|105.7 MHz||11||Smooth Radio|
|222.064 MHz||11D||8.7||Digital One|
|225.648 MHz||12B||10||BBC National DAB|
Analogue television signals are no longer broadcast from Sutton Coldfield as of 21 September 2011.
|623.25 MHz||40||1000||BBC Two|
|671.25 MHz||46||1000||BBC One|
|703.25 MHz||50||1000||Channel 4|
The transmitter is served by a set of 35 local relays, delivering signals to areas shaded from it by hills. These are:
- Allesley Park
- Bretch Hill
- Brierley Hill
- Earl Sterndale
- Gib Heath
- Gravelly Hill
- Haden Hill
- Ipstones Edge
- Leamington Spa
- Long Compton
- Perry Beeches
- Tenbury Wells
- Turves Green
- Woodford Halse
Digital switchover took place at Sutton Coldfield in September 2011. In preparation for this, major engineering works took place at the station. The mast height was increased from 245.0 metres (804 ft) to 270.5 metres (887 ft) and the UHF television antennas were replaced. This was accomplished through the use of a temporary 240.2 metres (788 ft) mast constructed to broadcast all the area's services so that the main mast could be worked on 'cold'.
As at other stations, the digital switchover took place in two stages:
In the first stage (7 September 2011):
- BBC Two analogue (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)
- ITV analogue moved from channel 43 to channel 40 (until stage 2)
- High-power multiplex BBC A started on channel 43
In the second stage (21 September 2011):
- BBC One analogue (Channel 46) closed down
- ITV analogue (Channel 40) closed down
- Channel 4 analogue (Channel 50) closed down
- Mux 1 (C41), Mux 2 (C44), Mux A (C47), Mux B (C51), Mux C (C52) and Mux D (C55) closed down
- All multiplexes increased in power to 200,000 watts (200 kW)
- New multiplexes came on air: SDN on C42, Arqiva A on C45, Arqiva B on C39, Digital 3&4 on C46 and BBC B on C40.
HD broadcasts were moved from the Lichfield transmitter to Sutton Coldfield on the BBC B multiplex (C40, 626.2 MHz). The Lichfield transmitter ceased the broadcast of all television services (Analogue Channel 5 and Digital BBC B (Mux HD)), with all six multiplexes being broadcast from Sutton Coldfield.
- Pawley, Edward (1972), BBC Engineering 1922 - 1972, London, BBC. pp 355, 368-70. ISBN 0-563-12127-0
- Cooper, Ray (2006), Tales from a Cold Field.
- Lichfield transmitting station
- List of masts
- List of radio stations in the United Kingdom
- List of tallest buildings and structures in Great Britain
- "The BBC Story - 1940s" (PDF).
- The structures that power your television
- Radio Listeners Guide 2010
- "Digital Switchover Transmitter Details: Central Region" (PDF). Ofcom. 2011-05-25. Retrieved 2011-08-14.
- Television Viewers Guide 2009
- Television Viewers guide 2009
- "Sutton Coldfield". Digital UK. Retrieved 19 August 2011.
- Birmingham Council Planning Control: Application No. N/04511/07/FUL
- The Transmission Gallery: photographs, coverage maps and information
- Info and pictures of Sutton Coldfield transmitter (including co-receivable transmitters)
- Sutton Coldfield Transmitter at thebigtower.com