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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

Saturday, 10 December 2011
10:19 PM

got 2 old tv`s in bedrooms upstairs ,how do I connect up to tv aerial downstairs. I can get freeview there so i know the aerial does pick up but don`t want to waste money when i won`t know what I am talking about

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kieron's 1 post GB flag
kieron's: mapK's Freeview map terrainK's terrain plot wavesK's frequency data K's Freeview Detailed Coverage
Sunday, 11 December 2011
2:23 PM
St. Austell

I have been watching freeview hd channels for just over a year with no problems, but in the past 2 weeks all four hd channels have become unwatchable they keep pixalating.All other channels ok. I have a loft aerial which I have repositioned with no success.I have tried another aerial and stuck it out an upstairs window with no success.Is there a problem with Redruth transmitter hd ouput? My Postcode is PL26 7PN.

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Steve's 3 posts GB flag
Steve's: mapS's Freeview map terrainS's terrain plot wavesS's frequency data S's Freeview Detailed Coverage
Dave Lindsay

2:59 PM

kieron: For loads of information on this, see ATV Sheffield's website:

Television Aerial Boosters / Amplifiers, Splitters, Diplexers & Triplexers

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Dave Lindsay's 5,724 posts GB flag
Monday, 12 December 2011
9:59 PM

Hi I have a loft aerial which has been fine uptill now at times (not all the time) I hear a click & the picture breaks up for a few secs, then its ok for about 20mins then it does it again. then it might be ok for a day or so. The aerial is only a very cheap standard type. My post code is DA12 4QY IN KENT. Also when any light switch is used this seems to give a slight clitch for a sec.
Is there any help out there, Many thanks . Doug

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D.R.Bushell's 2 posts GB flag
D.R.Bushell's: mapD's Freeview map terrainD's terrain plot wavesD's frequency data D's Freeview Detailed Coverage
Wednesday, 14 December 2011
Bob Buckle
2:50 PM

I have purchased a new TV which has a freeview HD tuner. According to my postcode (EN107JZ) I should be able to receive all freeview channels. Could you advise a suitable aerial which would allow me to view all freeview channels. I would prefer to mount this in the loft (currently I have a loft aerial which gives a good picture for channels 1,2,3 & 4 and poor reception for channel 5).

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Bob Buckle's 3 posts GB flag
Dave Lindsay

3:09 PM

Bob Buckle: Switchover in your area is happening in four months time. You might be able to receive digital TV after switchover with your current aerial, thus any changes (investment of money and time) you make now may only actually be of benefit for the next four months.

If you get good reception on the four analogue channels, then this suggests that you may get good Freeview (come switchover, even if you do not get it now). I don't count Channel 5 on analogue because it doesn't come from Crystal Palace which is why it isn't as good a picture.

Have you managed to get any Freeview channels on your TV?

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Dave Lindsay's 5,724 posts GB flag
Bob Buckle
5:43 PM

I have not yet tried my new TV yet as I intend to use it in my bedroom, which I am currently decorating. I will get back to you once I install it (wall mounted) in my bedroom.


Bob Buckle

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Bob Buckle's 3 posts GB flag
Bob's: mapB's Freeview map terrainB's terrain plot wavesB's frequency data B's Freeview Detailed Coverage
Thursday, 15 December 2011
10:07 AM

i live in a flat we have a communal aerial so my aerial lead comes from a outlet from my wall ,i have had my tv 2 years i cannot gat channel 5 and about 5 dtv channels but i have to move my tv to certain locations of the front room to get a good reception,do i have to get an aerial booster to get a decent reception and more dtv channels it is driving me mad be grateful for any input

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warren's 1 post GB flag
Dave Lindsay

10:30 AM

warren: A full post code will help us suggest an answer.

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Dave Lindsay's 5,724 posts GB flag
Saturday, 17 December 2011
Bob Buckle
6:24 PM

Could you explain whether the channel numbers associated with groups (e.g. group A is associated with channels 21-37)are the same as the channels which I am familiar with (i.e. BBC1 is channel 1, etc). The basic information I really need is can all freview programs be received by one aerial? (e.g. a group A aerial)


Bob Buckle

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Bob Buckle's 3 posts GB flag
Bob's: mapB's Freeview map terrainB's terrain plot wavesB's frequency data B's Freeview Detailed Coverage
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