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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

Monday, 15 August 2011
Steve T
10:05 AM

This must have been asked a million time - but, why do some transmitters broadcast more freeview channel than others? I live in the Stroud transmitter area and cannot receive 55 of the available channels.

link to this comment
Steve T's 1 post GB flag
Steve's: mapS's Freeview map terrainS's terrain plot wavesS's frequency data S's Freeview Detailed Coverage
Mike Dimmick

11:54 AM

Steve T: The commercial multiplex operators don't want to pay the extra cost of transmitting from the other 1,000+ sites in addition to the 81 sites they used before switchover. Ofcom have decided that their powers don't allow them to require the operators to do it (I disagree).

Ofcom are currently running a consultation on renewing the Multiplex C and D (Arqiva A and B) licences: see Ofcom | Television Multiplex Licence Renewals . Multiplex A was already renewed last year, so that ship has sailed for about the next 10 years.

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Mike Dimmick's 2,486 posts GB flag
12:42 PM

Hi, I live at PH8 0BY and until 27th of June 2011 we had good Freeview reception (went digital in August 2010). Since then we have had none. An aerial engineer has replaced our booster box to no avail. On the coverage map it looks as if our signal comes from the Blackhill transmitter. We are having wind turbines erected up on the hills to the north of us - could this have any impact on our reception (ie does the signal bounce off more northerly hills and come back to us?)??

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helen's 1 post GB flag
helen's: mapH's Freeview map terrainH's terrain plot wavesH's frequency data H's Freeview Detailed Coverage

1:12 PM

helen: Wind turbines would only effect your reception if they were directly between you and the transmitter.

Can you see Freeview reception has changed? | - independent free digital TV advice ?

I note the official Digital UK predictions say you can't get Freeview, but, as you say you did have the service in the past.

There is always Freesat - Compare Freeview Light and Freesat TV | - independent free digital TV advice .

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Briantist's 38,915 posts GB flag
2:48 PM

I live in the dy8 3ed area and recently i've lost a lot of channels mainly bbc1/2/3 and also itv and channel 4/5 plus a few others, i have tried reset to factory and retuning but no joy, also my tv has a habbit of going into standby with out me doing anything which is odd as this has only happened since i lost those channels. Any advice will be most welcome.

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Ruben's 2 posts GB flag
Ruben's: mapR's Freeview map terrainR's terrain plot wavesR's frequency data R's Freeview Detailed Coverage
Steve P

3:23 PM

... UK digital TV reception predictor

Helen - according to the above you have a chance from Dunkeld - Vertical aerial. Is that what you are trying?

An aerial engineer really ought to be able to inform you if he knows his job.

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Steve P's 1,173 posts GB flag
6:11 PM

Ok now! after posting my message on here i disconnected everything bar freeview box and TV from the wall socket, i also retuned my TV first and then reset my freeview box and got 104 channels now, only had 62 before. As for the TV going into stanby! I'm still puzzeled but it does tend to only happen now and again. Fingers crossed it's all OK.

link to this comment
Ruben's 2 posts GB flag
Ruben's: mapR's Freeview map terrainR's terrain plot wavesR's frequency data R's Freeview Detailed Coverage
Tuesday, 16 August 2011
Mark A.

11:23 AM

Steve P:
The website has some transmitters missing.
Here is the postcode for the Haywards Heath transmitter, but H.H. is not listed!

UK digital TV reception predictor
UK digital TV reception predictor

I have tried with a number of different Haywards Heath postcodes. (RH16 2PL, RH16 3PQ, RH16 1LT, RH16 ...)

It also lists Crystal Palace with all Haywards Heath postcodes. But Crystal Palace and even Heathfield only cover parts of the area. (RH163LB)

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Mark A.'s 374 posts GB flag
Mike Dimmick

3:40 PM

Mark A.: No, Wolfbane's *digital* predictor does not show Haywards Heath, because at the moment, HH does not transmit digital. It will do, from 30 May/13 June 2012 - it is a relay of Heathfield.

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Mike Dimmick's 2,486 posts GB flag
Steve P

5:24 PM

Wolfbane also has an anlogue predictor.

UK analogue TV reception predictor

Ruben - some boxes go into standby if no channel change or other change in a long time - giving warning on screen first

"Are you awake?" or similar.

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Steve P's 1,173 posts GB flag
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