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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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Do I still have to pay for a TV licence?2
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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

Saturday, 8 January 2011

12:51 PM

Nicky: You won't get Freeview HD until your switchover date.

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Briantist's 38,906 posts GB flag
Sunday, 9 January 2011
9:18 AM

hi Briantist etc
I have just bought a FreeViewHD tv and can't get any digital channels at all. It will only find analogue channels BBC1, BBC2,ITV1 & Channel 4 (which is all we could receive on our CRT set) . We have never been able to receive Channel 5.
We live in NN3 and receive signal from Sandy Heath.
We did the test on teletext page 284 and it looks like we should be ok to receive Freeview after the switchover in March but will we receive BBC1, BBC2 etc as well?
I suppose I need to decide whether to wait until the switchover or get a new aerial now?
many thanks for any help any one can give.

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franpip's 3 posts GB flag
franpip's: mapF's Freeview map terrainF's terrain plot wavesF's frequency data F's Freeview Detailed Coverage
9:53 AM

hi have just brought a teknik freeveiw tv have a new aerial,have auto tuned but it is still not allowing us to view channel 5, ITV and channel 4. can you please advise? freeview channels are working correctly as is bbc1 and 2

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paul's 1 post GB flag

9:50 PM

franpip: As you are using the Sandy Heath transmitter, you WILL need a new aerial after switchover if you want the commercial multiplexes. Your existing aerial will only be good enough to get the public service transmissions.

You may as well sort this out now, as you are predicted to get all the existing digital services from Sandy Heath today with a wideband aerial.

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Briantist's 38,906 posts GB flag
Monday, 10 January 2011
10:25 AM

hi for 2 days now my itv, channel 4,5 and a few others have gone i can not view them any more why? could you help please.

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tracy's 1 post GB flag
10:53 AM

Hi Brian: Thanks for all the useful info & hope you can help us too... We got new digital tv, which worked fine except for the BBC channels (both radio & tv, so missing two multiplexes). Then we got a Humax pvr, which briefly found the BBC channels, but not for long. Also it keeps losing other digital channels, although when I switch back to the telly it manages to pick them up ok. Richer Sounds suggested an aerial booster? We're Sandy Heath & noticed other people were having probs there & on yr '2-channel problem'link digital signal strength doesn't look great.

Is it a case of hanging on till signal gets boosted at switch or do we need a new aerial? Just don't understand why telly tuner can pick it up, but not pvr?

So much for the cuddly robot ads telling us how great the switch would be... Thank goodness for forums and people like you...

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hackett's 4 posts GB flag
hackett's: mapH's Freeview map terrainH's terrain plot wavesH's frequency data H's Freeview Detailed Coverage

2:03 PM

hackett: It is not likley that a booster will help you.

You should probably hand on for 13 April 2011, which is the end of the official switchover, when you are predicted to get most of the multiplexes, but even then you are going to have to wait for 14th September 2011 before the commercial multiplexes are at full power.

I would try just plugging, for the moment, the aerial direct to the PVR. You can use this to watch another channel whilst it is recording.

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Briantist's 38,906 posts GB flag
2:06 PM

My freeview reception has hitherto been excellent as I live in direct line with the Emley moor mast. i just bought a HD/PVR and though HD is good I am getting the occasional breakup of picture/momentaty loss
of reception. This seems to coincide with traffic passing on the nearby road.
With a loft ariel I can get no more than 36% signal strength whilst signal quality is in the order of 80-90%. Will a amplifier help ? do I need a better ariel? Will the signal be stronger after switchover?

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allan's 3 posts EU flag
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