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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
Loft aerials1
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Indoor aerials4
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Connecting it all up6

Saturday, 15 December 2012
Tommy Smith
5:32 PM

Hi I live in knighton, my postcode is Ld7 1bl. The nearest transmitter is garth hill vp. I can only get multiplexes 1 and 2, just wondering how can I get all 6? Limited channels are so boring, I can only watch a certain number of programmes which all they do is repeat.

If anyone can help that would be amazing, thankyou for your time.

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Tommy Smith's 2 posts GB flag
Tommy's: ...
Dave Lindsay

6:01 PM

Tommy Smith: Short of building a tower, maybe 250m to 300m high, on which to mount an aerial directed to Ridge Hill, then I don't think you have a prayer.

Somehow I don't think that you will get planning permission and will have to stick to getting a satellite dish for free-to-air channels.

Refer to this terrain plot between you and Ridge Hill:

Terrain between ( m a.g.l.) and (antenna m a.g.l.) - Optimising UK DTT Freeview and Radio aerial location

You have Llan-Wen Hill in the way whose summit is 250m above your ground level. It is also 60m above the top of the transmitter mast.

Unfortunately there is no likelihood of Garth Hill carrying the Commercial Freeview channels because those broadcasters don't wish to pay as they don't consider it worth their while (and 1,000 plus similar stations):

Londonderry transmitter | - 10 years of independent, free digital TV advice

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Dave Lindsay's 5,724 posts GB flag
Tommy Smith
6:40 PM

So basically I won't ever receive the extra multiplexes unless I move home? I should be however moving back to Kington, which I know that, that area receives all 6 multiplexes.

Thankyou for your time.

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Tommy Smith's 2 posts GB flag
Dave Lindsay

7:24 PM

Tommy Smith: Unfortunately, yes.

Kington has its own relay and the main part of the town is in a valley so I would warn you that there are probably parts that you will never be able to receive the full service from Ridge Hill and which you would have to rely on the local PSB relay.

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Dave Lindsay's 5,724 posts GB flag
Saturday, 22 December 2012
A very cross person!
6:34 PM

Why did they force us all to accept digital TV when none of us had any problems with signals before the switch? Why fix something when it isn't broken? We never had to worry about aerials and signals before and I was happy having just five channels. Now, I have none!

I haven't had TV since the switch to digital. Then, because I didn't want to miss Christmas TV, I bought a freeview box, an indoor aerial ( as I live in a flat) and I had to buy and extension lead to plug them in and after spending all that money, I still have no channels. A message keeps appearing on the screen to say, "no or bad signal." We had had to worry about signals before this switch that was forced upon us. Why are we being put through this?

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A very cross person!'s 1 post GB flag
Dave Lindsay

7:17 PM

A very cross person!: I don't understand.

If you watched the former five (analogue) channels then you must have used an aerial which would work for digital.

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Dave Lindsay's 5,724 posts GB flag

7:23 PM

A very cross person!:
"when none of us had any problems with signals before the switch"

Tell that to the people who didn't get digital TV because either the main transmitter didn't have enough power or their local relay transmitter wasn't broadcasting digital until the switchover.

Unless you live in Tyne Tees or Northern Ireland, then are you seriously saying you've not had TV for 6 months? Does anyone else in the flat have TV (that is not through satellite or cable)?

As Dave Lindsay says the requirement for an aerial did not change at the switchover - just the TV receiving equipment needed to be able to handle the digital signals.

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Michael's 358 posts GB flag
Dave Lindsay

7:27 PM

A very cross person!: If you live in a block of flats, then doesn't the landlord provide an aerial for you to use?

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Dave Lindsay's 5,724 posts GB flag

9:09 PM

A very cross person! Plus to that already said, that it would have been of considerable assistance to anyone that might advise regarding your difficulties if you had at least mentioned where you are located, a post code or one from nearby e.g: a shop being suffice, as this would then have given an idea of the signal level expected at your location as well as if there was any remote possibility that an indoor aerial would work, as although these are not really advisable for digital TV reception they can sometimes work OK (in a fashion) if within sight of the transmitter mast, or maybe by someone who lives in a tower block!

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jb38's 7,179 posts GB flag
Thursday, 27 December 2012
cath hunter
1:44 PM

Up until a few weeks ago -plumbers in attics- we had great freeview tv channels. Lately saying 'not tuned' or 'no signal.'

I am EH33 1GA. Could the plumbers have slightly moved the ariel and if so, will I just move slightly ?

Regards Cath

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cath hunter's 1 post GB flag
cath's: mapC's Freeview map terrainC's terrain plot wavesC's frequency data C's Freeview Detailed Coverage
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