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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

Wednesday, 5 January 2011
Unni Eidheim
11:44 AM
Isle Of Lewis

Just bought a new LG tv, LG42LE4500-ZA with freeview. When tuned in we do not get some of the channels, like Dave, Yesterday, Sky3 and Film4, though the others are very good quality. Previously we had the old tv tuned through a Sagem box, and we had all the channels. We have a roof aeriel, postcode is HS2 0DT. Have also tried to tune the new tv through the box, but all that did was make the picture quality worse! The new tv is in another room from the old one was, an electrisian made a new aeriel outlet, so that side should be ok... Any ideas why this is happening, and what to do about it?

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Unni Eidheim's 1 post GB flag
Unni's: mapU's Freeview map terrainU's terrain plot wavesU's frequency data U's Freeview Detailed Coverage
8:30 PM

just brought my son a new t.v with freeview, for his bedroom,it worked for a couple of hours then nothing, the picture breaks up all the time and you just cant watch it. i have a standard yagi aerial with a booster attached but it must be 18 years old by now.i think my area gu14 is the last to go digital.what do you suggust I need to buy to make this work for him.we have sky t.v downstairs.

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amanda's 1 post GB flag
Les Nicol

9:01 PM

amanda - I suspect the booster may well be the problem Shouldn't need boosting for digital receptiom.

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Les Nicol's 991 posts GB flag
Thursday, 6 January 2011

8:22 AM

Unni - Purely for test purposes I would move the TV into the old ones position and try giving it a retune, as with a roof aerial at only 8 miles away from the transmitter you shouldn't really have any problems, that is unless an intermittent technical problem occurred at your local transmitter, something which does not necessarily always get officially reported and especially if it concerns the power supply to the station. (Eitshal)

Also without wishing to cast aspersions on the socket fitted by the electrician, but do not automatically take it for granted this is OK as electricians can, depending on experience or the lack of, show scant regard when dealing with anything of an RF nature as its not really their line.

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jb38's 81 posts GB flag
Rodney Allen
4:58 PM

How much are we talking about for a "Digital High Gain class 1 Aerial"

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Rodney Allen's 1 post GB flag
Rodney's: mapR's Freeview map terrainR's terrain plot wavesR's frequency data R's Freeview Detailed Coverage
Friday, 7 January 2011
8:31 AM

Im at DE75, I know I need to upgrade my aerial, Im in the process of engaging a local fitter now. But I usually get good digital reception most of the time. But I notice a very slight audio video sync delay with the sound ahead of picture, this is also evident on analogue reception. Would this be eliminated with a good rooftop aerial?
I recently bought a Samsung LED TV and it did not like this delay at all and seemed to exagerate it even more, its going back today.

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Brian's 1 post GB flag
9:02 AM

Hi there
Cant figure out why I can get some Freeview channels using a separate freeview box but my 2 new tv's with freeview in them are not getting any channels at all. My postcode is DD4


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susan's 1 post GB flag

11:32 AM

Rodney Allen: If you are wanting a wideband Class 1 aerial the most popular is the DAT75 which would cost £70 or so but that is only the aerial itself. It is a very heavy item with a high wind loading so requires heavy duty pole and brackets for mounting. At your location if you want to receive the signals from Emley Moor a good quality group B yagi would probably be a better buy and be more manageable.

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KMJ,Derby's 1,811 posts GB flag
4:09 PM

Hi i recentley purchased a LG TV with built in HD Freeview, i get 77 digital channels but none of the HD ones post code is ST18 can anyone help?


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Nicky's 1 post GB flag

4:37 PM

Susan - Are you sure nothing has changed since you first carried out the scan on your separate freeview box? as your problem suggests the possibility that your aerial has moved and the few channels you are getting is just the slightly higher powered ones.

You are in an area that depending on location within the post code mentioned there is a chance of picking up three different stations, that said though only one (Angus) will give all the channels as it operates with six multiplexes, whereas the other stations (Tay Bridge & Camperdown) only operates with three thereby limiting the availability of channels.

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jb38's 81 posts GB flag
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