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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
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

Tuesday, 22 February 2011
11:23 PM

A little research later and I note that Freesat with 5x TVs and 2x PVRs gets really complicated and rather expensive!

Master bedroom
Son's bedroom
Daughter's bedroom

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Kevin's 17 posts GB flag
Wednesday, 23 February 2011
11:26 PM

Thank you but could you also comment on my first post yesterday posted at 10:46pm.

Total costs will be quite a bit more than just the Freesat box as all my internal cables are buried in walls and under floors etc. and are NOT satellite grade. Also Freesat at £30 doesn't include cost of dish, upgrading to Satellite grade cables or replacing existing Freeview recorders with Freesat recorders.

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Kevin's 17 posts GB flag
Thursday, 24 February 2011

6:46 AM

Kevin: Yes, you will have to spend another £30 on a satellite dish and some money on cables.

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Briantist's 38,906 posts GB flag
Des Collier

5:45 PM

Kevin:- Use RG6 OR PF100 SATELITTE CABLE,both are low loss double screened cable for digital satelitte systems,can also use this type of cable for freeview.

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Des Collier's 171 posts GB flag
Des's: mapD's Freeview map terrainD's terrain plot wavesD's frequency data D's Freeview Detailed Coverage
Friday, 25 February 2011
4:19 PM

Suddenly after good reception, my tv / digiboxes upstairs have lost many channels, I tried re tuning and that was worse....can only get mostly french and german programmes.
the digiboxes upstairs are connected to a roof aerial.....but have always had good full reception in the past.....please help.

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ann's 1 post GB flag
6:39 PM

Cornwall area suddenly has got no good reception on Astra 19.8 for my German programs,why? I changed to Astra 2 temporarely to have at least Russia Today, France 24, CNN.
Is there anybody else in UK having problems with Astra 19.8?

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sue's 4 posts GB flag
Saturday, 5 March 2011
3:21 PM

I have today run the initial autotune on our new LG LCD HD Freeview telly. It only recognised about 9 stations, several of which are very fuzzy and which do not include BBC 2.

We are in a bad reception area for the analogue signal (our aerial is pointed at the Wrekin in Shropshire but we are in something of a dip in Wombourne on the edge of the West Midlands).

Is it simply the case that we will need a new aerial fitted and if so what procedure would we need to go through for the set to then recognise the new extra channels?

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David's 1 post GB flag

4:10 PM

David: What is your full postcode please?

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Briantist's 38,906 posts GB flag
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