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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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How to receive Freeview on your PC3
Indoor aerials4
Whole house digital TV5
Connecting it all up6

Thursday, 24 November 2011
Steve P

10:58 PM

Neil - move the TVs around to find out if it is the TVs or the aerial feeds.

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Steve P's 1,173 posts GB flag
Saturday, 26 November 2011
8:47 AM

I am not getting the usual channels - BBC 1/2, ITV, 4 and 5. Got most of the others I think.
Any ideas?

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Benny's 1 post GB flag
Benny's: mapB's Freeview map terrainB's terrain plot wavesB's frequency data B's Freeview Detailed Coverage
12:52 PM

Hi, have a small goodmans tv with a freeview box linked to its own digital aerial on the roof. Due to the hill that is directly between the house and the transmitter I have fitted boosters to the aerial and one by the tv. Had reasonable signal strength for 9 months or so and now the signal has vanished.
Checked connections etc which seem ok. Any ideas please.

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Harry's 1 post GB flag
Sunday, 27 November 2011
10:12 AM

I have Sky + downstairs, and the kids have a tv with built in freeview, in each of their rooms, all of a sudden the upstairs tvs say No signal. I have bought a tv for my room and plugged in a tv link from the Sky downstairs, and that wont work either! Have been in the loft, checked all connections, everything is plugged in? Help! X

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Tina's 1 post GB flag
mick sullivan
12:57 PM

Chrissy, I know how frustrated you must feel but what the other posters were saying is very true. you need an outdoor aerial. Where I was living before I was on the first floor with an outside aerial and got perfect reception but the chap downstairs couldn't get anything so he also had a aerial put up on the roof and then everything worked fine. I have found that 99 out of a 100 tv reception problems are aerial related. Once you have had the aerial installed,you can look forward to years and years of receiving a good reception.

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mick sullivan's 1 post GB flag
Monday, 28 November 2011
9:05 PM

I live in a uni flat and my signal on my tv, using my digital box is not very clear, plus I only have the bbc channels. How do I get more? Post code is B15 2QW

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Harleen's 1 post GB flag
Harleen's: mapH's Freeview map terrainH's terrain plot wavesH's frequency data H's Freeview Detailed Coverage
11:01 PM

My post code is WR2 5LH My aerial post to the Malvern Transmitter I could not receive the BBC channels on my digi box prior to the switch over but was able to watch on Analogue, since the switchover I have still been unable to watch any BBC progs and since last weekend I have not had any ITV either. My aerial is on the roof, I have unplugged and retuned everyday and I am not now very frustrated and annoyed. Help!

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Pauline's 1 post GB flag
Pauline's: mapP's Freeview map terrainP's terrain plot wavesP's frequency data P's Freeview Detailed Coverage
Tuesday, 29 November 2011

11:23 AM

Pauline: Do a factory reset to clear the channel list, then start a channel scan with the aerial unplugged. When the scan reaches C47 plug the aerial back in. The scan will then continue over the frequencies used by the Malvern transmitter. This will make sure that you are not storing channels from weak unusable transmissions, it is likely that you can receive Bromsgrove signals, with Sutton Coldfield and Ridge Hill also possible when using a suitable aerial. If your analogue reception was good before switchover you should now have good digital reception.

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KMJ,Derby's 1,811 posts GB flag
Dave Lindsay

11:49 AM

Harleen: Are you using a set-top aerial? As you're in a flat, have you tried using the roof-top aerial provided?

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Dave Lindsay's 5,724 posts GB flag
Wednesday, 30 November 2011
AT - Lancs
12:20 PM

Good Afternoon,

It is possible to have your aerial configured to receive a different freeview signal?

We currently receive Haslingden (18 Channels) yet in our area people can recieve Winter Hill Signal (40 Channels)


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AT - Lancs's 1 post GB flag
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