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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?
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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

Friday, 11 February 2011
Heather Martinez
12:13 PM

how much would that cost and could I get it that done if I told them that was the problem or con me into something else?

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Heather Martinez's 8 posts GB flag
Heather's: mapH's Freeview map terrainH's terrain plot wavesH's frequency data H's Freeview Detailed Coverage

1:19 PM

Heather Martinez: It shouldn't cost too much - the best thing to do is to ask for three different quotes, or find a friend or neighbour who knows a good installer.

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Briantist's 38,915 posts GB flag
Mark Aberfan Aerials

3:22 PM

Hi Heather,

With the best will in the world, there is no g'tee that the problem is water in the cable although like brian that would be my first guess too, but without seeing the problem we can only guess.
I would not instuct a aerial guy to replace the cable as that may not be your problem. As brian said ask friends family neighbours for the name of a decent installer & call them & please dont presume that if something else is faulty they are trying to con you, for example, if the water was getting into the cable because the waterproof connection cover on the aerial is split letting water in then the aerial as well as the cable would need to be replaced. The key to sorting this problem is getting someone you can trust, dont be taken in by flashy websites, adverts or logos & badges they are no replacement for a referance from a friend family member.

Mark Aberfan Aerials

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Mark Aberfan Aerials's 1,059 posts GB flag
Saturday, 12 February 2011
Heather Martinez
1:18 PM

Thank you both very much for your help and advice, I have already explained this problem to an aerial company who told me I would need a digital aerial to sort the problem,( thats why I came on here to ask the question) I couldn't see how as I explained this only happens when it wet, snowing etc,in the summer and dry weather the picture is brill, last night it was raining quite hard and has been on and off for the last two days so I could not get a picture on any of the station at all and as the weather dries up the picture comes back. thank you both again

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Heather Martinez's 8 posts GB flag
Heather's: mapH's Freeview map terrainH's terrain plot wavesH's frequency data H's Freeview Detailed Coverage

6:27 PM

Heather Martinez: I would be very suspicious of anyone that tell you that you need a "digital aerial", as there is no such thing.

Given what you have said, if you do need a new aerial, you need one just like the one you have at the moment - just not broken.

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Briantist's 38,915 posts GB flag
Sunday, 13 February 2011
10:58 AM

I live in LE12 8NU and am having trouble receiving all freeview channels. I receive some and some are just blank screens.
Can you advise what aerial is best for my house - it is an outside roof aerial I currently have.

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Dan's 1 post GB flag
Dan's: mapD's Freeview map terrainD's terrain plot wavesD's frequency data D's Freeview Detailed Coverage
Heather Martinez
11:16 AM

Ok then I have phoned three different aerial companies and been told I need a Digital aerial, as i will not be able to get any signal for my BT vision, Freeview,or my daughter tele with freeview built in, when I told them there is not such thing as a "digital aerial" I just want the one I've got replaced I was told it will not work next year. Who do I believe. can some please give me a name of a decent aerial company near me

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Heather Martinez's 8 posts GB flag
Heather's: mapH's Freeview map terrainH's terrain plot wavesH's frequency data H's Freeview Detailed Coverage

11:17 AM

Dan: If your aerial points at Sutton Coldfield transmitter (you get West Midlands services on BBC and ITV) then you won't be able to get Freeview until switchover.

If your aerial is pointing at Waltham (East Midlands on BBC and ITV) you should get perfect Freeview reception today with the most basic of rooftop aerials, but you will only get the BBC services if you have not changed the aerial to the "wideband" type.

From Wednesday 31st August 2011 you will get five of the six multiplexes from Waltham with an existing aerial.

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Briantist's 38,915 posts GB flag

11:19 AM

Heather Martinez: All you need is a standard aerial pointing at the Crystal Palace transmitter. It will work today and for the foreseeable future.

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Briantist's 38,915 posts GB flag
Monday, 14 February 2011
2:02 PM

Thanks, Briantist, for the suggestion. But no, actually - it isn't that Al Jazeera English only transmits on Freeview in the evenings, as I don't get an AJE signal from Mendip in the evenings either. Any further ideas?

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Jack's 2 posts GB flag
Jack's: mapJ's Freeview map terrainJ's terrain plot wavesJ's frequency data J's Freeview Detailed Coverage
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