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Freeview reception - all about aerials

Your ability to receive all the Freeview transmissions depends on the suitability of aerial: the design style, "group" and its physical location.

Your ability to receive all the Freeview transmissions depends
published on UK Free TV

Updated 8th January 2014.

Your ability of receive all the Freeview transmissions depends on the suitability of aerial

  • the design style,
  • the "group", and
  • its physical location.

Standard type - Yagi aerial

The standard type of TV aerial is known as the Yagi aerial. It is mounted on a pole, and consists of a rod with a reflector (shown green) at the back and many spiky elements (in grey) at the front. The connecting cable connects to the element nearest the reflector, known as the driver (shown in blue).

These Yagi aerials are directional and so pick up signals best from a transmitter that the rod points towards. The more elements the aerial has, the better it picks up a signal and becomes more directional.

A standard-type aerial is all that is required for digital TV reception in most places. These antennae have between 10 and 18 elements and a single reflector. These are recommended for new installations for good digital television reception, but will more often than not function perfectly in good reception areas.

Typically these aerials are designed to receive only some transmission frequencies - see "groups" below.

High Gain aerials

These aerials are designed for poor digital reception areas, and have two reflectors. For maximum signal strength, some digital high gain aerials have up to 100 elements. Since the switchover to digital-only transmissions back in October 2012, most UK households now have good quality digital TV signals.

A more expensive aerial is only required where the signal strength is low, but can often provide the whole Freeview reception where it might otherwise be impossible.

The CAI (that represents aerial installers) has four standards for digital TV aerials. The highest standard "1" is for homes on the fringes of coverage areas, intermediate standard "2" is suitable for use within the coverage area; minimum standard "3" is for good coverage conditions.

These aerials can be either wideband, or receive only selected frequencies - see "groups" below.


You may haved used a 'Grid aerial' for analogue reception, but as they are generally unsuitable for Freeview reception, they have now generally been replaced by the Yagi type. However in some places a Grid aerial installation may work for Freeview: otherwise replace with a standard Yagi aerial.


Indoor aerials are generally not suitable for Freeview reception. In areas of good signal strength it is often possible to receive some transmissions. Even where an aerial works, people often find that may get interruptions to their viewing (or recording).

Loft mounted

Loft mounted arrivals are not generally recommended for Freeview reception, as the roof tiles and plumbing will degrade the signal. Some compensation for this loss of signal can be made by using satellite-grade cable to connect the set top box to the aerial.


The best position for a TV aerial is mounted outdoors, as high from the ground as possible, pointing directly at the transmitter. The signal can be blocked by hills and tall buildings. It should be positioned away from any other aerials.

Horizontal or vertical?

The transmitter will either use vertical mode which requires the elements of your aerial to be up-down, or horizontal mode which requires them to be level with the ground.


Both analogue and digital television is transmitted the same group of transmission frequencies (known as channel 21 through to 60). A coloured marking on the aerial shows the group.

To create the best possible analogue picture, TV transmissions from adjacent transmitters have been designated to several different groups of frequencies. By using an aerial that receives only the channels in the correct group, the analogue picture can be kept free from interference.

To receive Freeview transmissions from the same transmitter it has been sometimes necessary to use frequencies that are not part of the transmitter's normal group. When this has occurred, the aerial will need to be replaced with a "wideband" aerial (also known as group W) - one that covers every group.

As Ofcom is planning to move the TV frequencies again - perhaps as soon as 2018 - it may be wise to use a wideband aerial if you can to ensure you can keep viewing Freeview for many years to come.

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In this section
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Thursday, 4 January 2018
12:31 PM

AnandLeo: A dish is used to receive satellite signals and is not suitable for receiving Freeview. Either you're actually connecting to an aerial on the roof or in the loft somewhere, or you're just receiving a strong signal being picked up by the cable. The cables coming from a satellite dish will have screw connectors, whereas cables from a terrestrial aerial (i.e. one used to receive Freeview) will normally have push connectors. Start by checking the cables and connections that you are using are the correct type and aren't loose or damaged.

link to this
StevensOnln1's 1,818 posts Gold Gold GB
7:46 PM

StevensOnln1: Thanks. The connection to the TV is push, not screw, however, I assume it comes from a small dish. I searched and found cheap indoor Freeview antenna on ebay, that should solve the problem hopefully.

link to this
AnandLeo's 2 posts GB
10:13 PM


An indoor aerial is only likely to work for you if you live very close to a main transmitter. As you have not given a full post code we have no idea where you are in relation any of the over 1000 transmitters used for Freeview.

As StevensOnln1 states, a dish does not receive Freeview but could receive Freesat as long as you used a satellite receiver connected to it. Nearly all satellite installations use a screw-on 'F' connector and not a push in coaxial connector.

So please give your full post code and clarify what connections you have coming into the room in use.

link to this
MikeP's 2,104 posts Platinum Platinum GB
Tuesday, 12 June 2018
2:47 AM London

Hi we have been using a standard inside aerial and had all freeview channels until recently that is ! Now we cant get 94 and 96 Any help appreciated

link to this
Dan's 4 posts GB
Dan's: Freeview map terrain plot frequency data R&TI Service digitaluk trade DAB coverage
2:48 AM London

Hi we have been using a standard inside aerial and had all freeview channels until recently that is ! Now we cant get 94 and 96 Any help appreciated se95rg Eltham

link to this
Dan's 4 posts GB
Dan's: Freeview map terrain plot frequency data R&TI Service digitaluk trade DAB coverage
3:12 PM


You are just 9km away from the very powerful Crystal Palace transmitter, so you should be getting very good reception. There is a chance that the signal being received could be too strong, so please will you check what the reported signal strengths are on your TV set. It should not be any greater than 85%.

Further, the work done at Crystal Palace a few weeks ago changed the aerial requirement so that now a wideband type aerial is needed to get all channels (the 'old' Group A aerials cannot receive the new Channels 55 and 56 at all well). So you may need to have the aerial changed, contact the Freeview Helpline on 0808 100 0288 as tou may qualify for a free replacement aerial if you do not also have a satellite or cable system available.

link to this
MikeP's 2,104 posts Platinum Platinum GB
Wednesday, 13 June 2018
1:45 PM London

Dan: MikeP so the two channels in question are 87 country and 94 pbs America So following your advice to check the signal strength i have gone to manual search on tv menu on search type Digitsl aerial and checked channel 54 and 55 where the two missing channels are supposedly located signal quality 0 and signal level 0

link to this
Dan's 4 posts GB
Dan's: Freeview map terrain plot frequency data R&TI Service digitaluk trade DAB coverage
6:42 PM


Then your aerial is an old Group A type that was used for Crystal Palace but is no longer suitable. It needs to be replaced by a wideband type, prteferably a log-periodic. Call the Freeview Help line on 0808 100 0288 as you may qualify for a free replacement of your old aerial.

link to this
MikeP's 2,104 posts Platinum Platinum GB
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