The millennium bug could wreck the BBC's television broadcasting plans for the New Year period if power problems were to paralyse the transmission network around the country.
The BBC's transmission business was privatised in February 1997 and is now run by Warwick based Castle Transmission International. Phil Docherty, the company's Y2K project leader, says widespread electricity failures would cause BBC television blackouts.
"We are dependent on electricity", he said.
Castle has a system of electricity generators to cope with radio transmitter power failures, Docherty says, but in the event of an major interruption to electricity supplies there would be, "radio but no TV."
He says large television transmission sites have a diversity of electricity sources so that power blackouts at the sites could only happen if electricity supply failures occurred at many places around the country. The transmission equipment itself is unlikely to malfunction because of millennium bug problems, he said.
"Most of our transmission equipment is fairly basic, so if there is electricity and a signal (to broadcast), it works," he confirmed.
Castle also broadcasts digital television signals for the BBC and Ondigital. These services will be unaffected by power failures because they are backed up by generators, Docherty says.
The BBC has about 120 people working on millennium bug related problems, and Morag Pavich, communications manager for the BBC's Y2K team, says the corporation expects to announce its readiness for the millennium at the National Infrastructure Forum meeting in July.
She says the BBC already has generators in place to cope with power failures and will not require any extra ones to cope with the millennium period.
"We have contingency plans in place and are looking at perhaps a series of low level failures," she said.
The BBC is heavily dependent on suppliers and Pavich says the corporation has held preparedness meetings with independent television producers and received assurances from its suppliers, including Castle.
Assuming there will be no disruption to transmission services, the BBC is planning to broadcast a millennium special from the morning of New Year's Eve, following sunrises around the world.
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