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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
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Indoor aerials4
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Monday, 21 November 2011
6:32 PM

I have a hd ready tv with an indoor aerial, can get freeview but not hd channels. will installing an outdoor aerial get me hd?
I live near the transmitter i can see the whole thing without buildings between us i live in London

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john's 1 post GB flag
Dave Lindsay

6:48 PM

john: If you can see the transmitter from where your aerial is sited, then that should raise your chances greatly.

HD on Freeview in London is only available from Crystal Palace, so if it's another transmitter that you're using, then you'll have to wait until June to get HD.

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Dave Lindsay's 5,724 posts GB flag
9:55 PM

Hi there, looking for some advice please. I live in an appartment and we have a freeeview digital HD TV which sometimes works, and sometimes has no signal. The aerial of the building seems to not be working but the management will not fix it. If we get a freeview box, will the TV work?

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S's 1 post GB flag
Steve P

11:54 PM

john - do you actually HAVE an HD TUNER? HD READY TV means a high definition monitor, but may only have a SD TUNER built in as HD standard only recently set. You may need an HD Tuner box.

S - Unlikely that a box will work any better. If other tenants same problem you need to gang up on the landlord - or just share the cost yourselves. If you can see the transmitter you may do OK woth an aerial pointingf through the window,. Need your postcoide to comment.

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Steve P's 1,173 posts GB flag
Tuesday, 22 November 2011
10:13 PM

I can get BBC3 (on channel 9) onwards but i cannot get BBC1,1 ,ITV1, C4, C5 and all channels up to 9. the analogue reception is OK. I have done the recommended aerial test (teletext p284) which is fine. I have tried the Digital TV Menu installation set up (several times) but no luck. Yesterday it was working - what is the problem and how can i solve it ?

many thanks in advance for your help

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Colin's 3 posts GB flag
Wednesday, 23 November 2011
Dave Lindsay

11:16 AM

Colin: What model TV and set-top box (if you have one) do you have?

What is your post code as it might help suggest a solution because then we can get an idea of what the signal is like in your area.

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Dave Lindsay's 5,724 posts GB flag
11:03 PM

Thanks Dave,

postcode is e11 2jt. The TV is a Philips "flat TV" HD ready (model name/number not known but it is a couple of years old) with integrated freeview box.

The signal in the area is fine according to the BBC test.


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Colin's 3 posts GB flag
Colin's: mapC's Freeview map terrainC's terrain plot wavesC's frequency data C's Freeview Detailed Coverage
Thursday, 24 November 2011
8:48 PM

I have 3 tv's comnnected to one loft aerial. The TV down stairs picks up all channela inc HD with no problems.The second TV in a bedroom gets the main channels, BBC1-2-3-4, ITV 1-2-3-4, C4,C5 and all the selling channels but every other channel is poor at best and spends most of the time in freeze mode. The 3rd TV gets nothing, it scans and finds the channels but every one is is poor at best but most of the time freezes and has to be turned of and on again only for it to freeze again. Any ideas. Had a new aerial and signal strength is high on all 3 outputs but only one tv is ok. All tv's are less than a year old and have built in freeview hd tuners.

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Neil's 1 post GB flag
Dave Lindsay

9:06 PM

Neil: Firstly, you mention high signal strength. This could be a problem, see here:

Freeview signals: too much of a good thing is bad for you | - independent free digital TV advice

What have you used to split the signal?

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Dave Lindsay's 5,724 posts GB flag
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