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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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How to receive Freeview on your PC3
Indoor aerials4
Whole house digital TV5
Connecting it all up6

Wednesday, 8 May 2013
Dave Lindsay

2:28 PM

Harry Gallagher: Freeview is the name of the terrestrial system in the UK. This means that it is broadcast from transmitters on the ground, and for this reason a satellite dish cannot be used for it.

However, there are free-to-air services available via satellite (i.e. non-subscription). As KMJ,Derby says, you can get some free-to-air services with your Sky box and no subscription card.

Other possibilities are "Freesat from Sky" and "Freesat".

"Freesat from Sky" information is here:

FREESAT from Sky - Call now to order

Be aware of the dagger footnote(!): "For security reasons Viewing Cards may be inactivated from time to time. In this situation, if you wish to continue to receive all the encrypted Free to View channels, you will have to purchase a new viewing card at our then applicable standard charge."

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Dave Lindsay's 5,724 posts GB flag
Tuesday, 2 July 2013
Jamie Lonnen
9:56 AM


I am in a strong reception area near to the Rowridge transmitter. We had good reception to start with on freeview then, after about 2 weeks, the picture started to pixillate and break up. I vertically polarised the aerial which did the trick, we had a perfect picture for another 2 weeks but then the same thing happened again. Could it be that the signal is too strong or maybe some cross channel interference? Would it be worth trying an attenuator do you think?

Many Thanks,


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Jamie Lonnen's 1 post GB flag
Jamie's: mapJ's Freeview map terrainJ's terrain plot wavesJ's frequency data J's Freeview Detailed Coverage
Saturday, 27 July 2013
Mike Collard
11:18 AM

I have an LG TV with Freeview HD and a digital antenna. The TV reception is great but most of the radio channels in the 700 range do not work, due I suspect to a poor signal.

Do I need a separate DAB antenna and if so can I combine the TV and DAB leads into a single feed and importantly will the LG TV split out the TV and DAB signals as the TV only has a single antenna socket?


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Mike Collard's 1 post GB flag

12:12 PM

Mike Collard: DAB and the Freeview radio channels are two completely separate things in terms of both receivers and aerials so that won't work.

Which radio channels numbers do not work? Obviously BBC stations are available to everyone, but the others are commercial stations only available to those in range of a main Freeview transmitter. If you have channels 10, 11 and 15 you should get all of the Freeview radio stations.

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Michael's 358 posts GB flag
Friday, 2 August 2013
Eric Dagless
10:07 AM

We like to use the subtitles on our Freeview tele, most channels are ok, but on Channels 10 and 31 we lose about half of them. I have a small loft aerial which has only 4 spikes and a reflector. Could this be the cause?. On another system,(Skye), the appropriate channels are good. (systems completely separate). We are only about 12 miles from Sandy Heath transmiter. Would welcome your advice.

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Eric Dagless's 1 post GB flag
Monday, 5 August 2013
Dave Southall
5:20 PM

I have bought a Toshiba TV with built-in DVB Freeview. Is it possible to receive satelite Freeview if I connect to a dish aerial?

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Dave Southall's 2 posts GB flag
Dave Lindsay

5:22 PM

Dave Southall: There is now satellite Freeview because Freeview is a terrestrial system, perhaps you mean Freesat.

If the TV has a built-in Freesat tuner (DVB-S) then you can connect it to a dish. For this it will have a connection at the back, this being a threaded f-connector.

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Dave Lindsay's 5,724 posts GB flag
Tuesday, 6 August 2013
5:23 PM

Hi Dave,
Yes I meant Freesat. I have connected a dish through a decoder and have a good picture. Many thanks.

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Dave's 2 posts GB flag
Sunday, 1 September 2013
1:02 PM

Hi, Whats the best db for freeview reception from Winter Hill ?
I suspect its between 50 and 65 db ?


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Stephen's 2 posts GB flag
Steve P

7:39 PM

Stephen what do you mean by db?

50-65 are the CHANNELS in use

dB - decibel - is a measure of signal strength - depends how far you are but 50-65 is a good signal.

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Steve P's 1,173 posts GB flag
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