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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?
Why are all TVs on sale not digital?1
Do I still have to pay for a TV licence?2
I had perfect channel 5 reception - until I got a digital TV box!3
I Have a Pocket Tv For taking out so I can keep up with news and sport. Will thi4
The pictures from my digital box are all green!5
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

Wednesday, 6 April 2011
10:47 AM

I have a new tv fitted in my dining room...I have a co-axial cable coming from the roof into a tv in the kitchen. Can I obtain a junction box to feed another co-axial cable into my new TV?

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Gerry's 1 post GB flag
5:05 PM

Mike: Thanks for the advice. Currently we don't get Channel 5 at all through the main aerial (we get a snowy Channel 5 on the portable TVs). I will look into getting a partial replacement if that's possible even if it's not the best option. I'm sure whoever moves in will want to overhaul the lot, but that can be with their choice of system.

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Annie's 6 posts GB flag
Annie's: mapA's Freeview map terrainA's terrain plot wavesA's frequency data A's Freeview Detailed Coverage
Thursday, 7 April 2011
Carol Davis
11:40 AM
Burry Port

We have a new LG LCD set with built-in Freeview. When switched on, it nearly always has a NO SIGNAL logo. It can take anything from 5 minutes to an hour to get it to connect.

A local aerial firm has adjusted the signal reception and made alterations to our aerial (as the signal strength was too powerful) but nothing has worked so far.

We have three other sets which are not experiencing the same problem. We have a roof aerial.

If anyone can suggest a solution, I'd be very grateful.

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Carol Davis's 1 post EU flag
Carol's: mapC's Freeview map terrainC's terrain plot wavesC's frequency data C's Freeview Detailed Coverage
Friday, 8 April 2011
raymond huggett
8:33 PM

hi just fitted free wiew arial all channels ok butt all itv channels are poor break up and signal is poor.
regards ray

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raymond huggett's 1 post GB flag
Saturday, 9 April 2011
1:07 AM

Anologue in my area was apparently switched off on 30th March. I retuned my Freeview as requested via an onscreen message - since then I have not been able to get BBC channels but everything else is fine. And I still get BBC1/2 ITV Channe4 and the usual snowy 5 on analogue. Luckily I have Virgin Media as well!! But the Freeview is a good back-up - or should be so why no Beeb on freeview???

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Jon's 2 posts GB flag

7:56 AM

Jon: You have not provided a postcode, but no region was "switched off on 30th March", only the first stage.

Please first check your box is not on the TVs and boxes that do not support the 8k-mode | - independent free digital TV advice list.

If is is not, then do this My Freeview box has no EPG, is blank on FIVE, ITV3, ITV4, ITV2+1, has no sound or the channel line up is wrong | - independent free digital TV advice .

If that doesn't work you might have too much signal - remove any boosters from your system, or you might have to fit an attenuator.

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Briantist's 38,899 posts GB flag

8:05 AM

Carol Davis: There is probably a fault with the set. Try a Freeview box on your aerial and see if it does the same thing. If it doesn't then you probably will need the store to replace your TV.

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Briantist's 38,899 posts GB flag
Sunday, 10 April 2011
7:34 PM

i have sky in my front room which i pay nearly £90 a month with sports chanals but have freeveiw in my bedroom with an indoor aeril and had no problems with any untill recently a new neighbour moved in downstairs who uses the old cb radio he asked cud he put 1 of his aerils in the back garden and i said yes but now there are 2 huge aerils higher than are flat's and an extra two spaning three blocks of flats it's hard getting a signal on my f/veiw and my sky keeps freezeing sky came out and gave us a new box and it's still happening could his cb be interfereing with our signal? plz help? oh yeah i live in leigh? x

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wendi's 1 post GB flag
Monday, 11 April 2011

6:04 AM

wendi: Please contact the BBC via their tool - see BBC - Reception problems .

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Briantist's 38,899 posts GB flag
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