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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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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

Sunday, 3 July 2011

10:53 PM

C Mallow - did you try with the old aerial first?

Does the new one use the old wiring, or a new direct link?

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Steve's 1,173 posts GB flag
Tuesday, 5 July 2011

6:01 AM

C mallow your problem started with i have just brought not i have just have instaled an aerial by an aerial rigger, get one out he will not use any of your equipment you have brought but he will fit you an aerial and check it with a meter then you should be ok

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Mazbar's 384 posts GB flag
Wednesday, 13 July 2011
steve hende
6:57 PM

dear sir iam not reciving ch 3 4 5 what i do next can you telme please

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steve hende's 1 post GB flag
Steve P

7:33 PM

Ask your neighbours if they are.

Then call in a TV and aerial specialist.

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Steve P's 1,173 posts GB flag
Friday, 15 July 2011
10:17 AM

Ok I have recently moved into a flat on Isle of Wight nr beach. Very good yes,,,but the roof ariel doesn't work and since moving in have tried 3 indoor ariels but my HD flat screen tv has not been able to pick up a signal even with an ariel booster.

The flat below has Sky to use their TV, but I really don't want that expense

I rent so cant put my own roof ariel up

Any solutions gratefully received

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Ali's 1 post GB flag

5:52 PM

Ali: As the place is surrounded by beaches of one sort or another you really have to provide a more accurate location marker, this preferably in the form of your post code, or at least the name an area very near to it, this then enabling all reception possibilities to be checked on.

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jb38's 7,179 posts GB flag

7:28 PM

Ab ask your landlord to fix the tv aerial at his expence not yours i do lots of areials for landlords

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Mazbar's 384 posts GB flag
Steve P

8:10 PM

Ali - has analogue TV been turned off there? If not, can you get it?

Do the flats have a shared aerial system?

Anything in the lease about TV aerials?

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Steve P's 1,173 posts GB flag
Sunday, 17 July 2011
Carl Bari
10:55 AM

The economy is crushing us. We have Comcast but they dont care. Without competition they continullay raise rates. They also Fix their rates against other cable services. We want to get rid of them after 8 years and turn to the financial freedom of the old fashioned arial system. Who can we get that does this reputably? We need someone to come out and access our home and location so they can suggest the most efficient system. We live in Berkeley County West Virginia. Thank You for any bonafied recommendations.

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Carl Bari's 1 post US flag
Saturday, 23 July 2011
Graham Harris
5:18 PM

we have a 2yr old TV and are able to get ALL freeview channels Our aerial was already installed in the loft when we moved in to our new home. We have since had installed a booster.
Our quality of programs and pictures are good.
Can we assume that the aerial will be OK for the digital switch on.?

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Graham Harris's 1 post GB flag
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