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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.

Help with Television sets?
My TV is NICAM, does that mean I have digital TV?1
Are all Widescreen TVs digital?2
Why has my widescreen TV just made everyone look fat?3
Why are some channels are widescreen others revert to 43 with a black line down 4
If you have several TVs at home do you need separate decoders for each set or is5
In this section
Loft aerials1
Do I need to buy a booster?2
How to receive Freeview on your PC3
Indoor aerials4
Whole house digital TV5
Connecting it all up6

Sunday, 29 July 2018
8:02 PM

Hi gill2

Are we to take it that the TV reception itself is fine; just the noise is annoying? If not, ignore this and follow MikeP's wise advice.

But if so you may be able to work out the cause of the problem and mend it

Clearly your fat roof should go on a diet?

But if it is also a flat roof does that mean you have easy and safe access to it?

Just work out which bit is loose and screw, glue or tie it so it is not.

link to this
steveP's 1,173 posts Gold Gold GB
Monday, 30 July 2018
12:05 AM

I just noticed MikeP's comment (12 June) about the strength of the Crystal Palace Transmitter.

I used to own a house on Herne Hill - a couple of miles north and facing CP.

When I let it out a tenant asked where the TV aerial sockets were. This confused me as I did not know. On reflection, we did not have an aerial at all. Not even indoors. TVs just WORKED.

Post digital TV was more demanding. A screwdriver in the aerial socket was needed.

link to this
steveP's 1,173 posts Gold Gold GB
Monday, 6 August 2018
david Meek
3:24 PM

Could you please tell me which is the best aerial I can buy (roof fitting) for reception from winterbourne stickland transmitter
(freeview). I live in Blandford Forum

David Meek

link to this
david Meek's 1 post GB
3:41 PM

david Meek:

Please put your post code into the Digital UK Coverage Checker at Digital UK - Coverage checker and scroll down to the listing of available transmitters at your location. If there is an entry for Winterbourne Stickland it will tell you what aerial group is needed. Generally it is now advisable to fit a wideband type so it can provide reception of all current and future channels without any need to have it changed in future. Aerials that are designed for a specific group of channels may not be suitable in future.

link to this
MikeP's 2,480 posts Platinum Platinum GB
Wednesday, 5 December 2018
Glenn Layfield
7:44 PM

Hi I have a lodge in Malton, North Yorkshire, the local news channel I receive Covers as far up as Berwick across to Cumbria and upto Newcastle. I find this odd as where I live in Halifax my local station covers Leeds, Bradford, York.
Malton being only 25 mins from York, and 35 from Leeds I would have expected news coverage to be more from around here rather than nearly 170 miles away.
I'm getting a new smart TV soon will that help or is it my aerial, and if so what can I do to receive more local news and weather.
Many thanks.
Kind regards.
Glenn Layfield

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Glenn Layfield's 1 post GB
10:54 PM

Glenn Layfield :

It is a matter of which transmitter is providing services to the area around your Lodge. If you provide a full post code for that location we may be able to advise any possible alternatives.
The broadcasters agree with Ofcom and Arqiva which transmitters will broadcast their signals and regional services are carefully controlled so as not to interfere with other broadcasts - and they are strictly regional.

link to this
MikeP's 2,480 posts Platinum Platinum GB
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