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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, 9 February 2012

5:39 PM

John Titley: If you have a reasonable line of sight to the South (no trees or tall buildings) you are predicted to receive the COM muxes from Preseli with about a 70% chance of reliable reception. ArqB changes frequency in October 2012 and reception is shown as improving somewhat in November 2012. Any proposed additional muxes are also likely to require reception from Preseli in order to receive them.

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KMJ,Derby's 1,811 posts GB flag
Steve P

11:56 PM

Gus B - Satellite dish = Sky/Freesat

Freeview tuner requires pointy spiky aerial.

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Steve P's 1,173 posts GB flag
Friday, 17 February 2012
12:54 PM

We live in an Oxfordshire village and have a TV with built-in Freeview, are surrounded by trees and lower than the adjacent farmers fields. We often have either no reception at all (all pixelated and broken) on all channels except BBC or lost ITV reception altogether. Is this our location or a problem with our 20 year old TV aerial /cabling? Would switching to BT Vision cure this?

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BevB's 1 post EU flag
Steve P

2:20 PM

BevB - You seem to have identified the likely problems, but hard to comment without knowing your postcode - and even that might not be enough if it covers a large area.

I don't think BT vision is the cure - isn't it just for add-on services? Not sure.

Freesat might be the way to go.

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Steve P's 1,173 posts GB flag

4:11 PM

BevB: Just to add to that already said, BT vision is basically a Freeview box such as you presently have but which also requires a broadband connection for full use of the additional features it offers.

I am inclined to agree that Freesat is likely to be the best option, that is so long as when standing with your back against a South facing wall you can have an unobstructed view of the Sky when looking up at about an angle of 25 degrees or so from the horizontal.

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jb38's 7,179 posts GB flag
Saturday, 18 February 2012
7:10 PM

This site seems to have a lot of info....except what I want!
Where can I find out what direction to point my aerial in please?
Thank you.

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Podzak's 1 post EU flag
Podzak's: mapP's Freeview map terrainP's terrain plot wavesP's frequency data P's Freeview Detailed Coverage

7:34 PM

Podzak: Pontop Pike @ 16 miles away is indicated as your main station with the aerial mounted horizontally and pointing at 208 degrees.

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jb38's 7,179 posts GB flag
Sunday, 19 February 2012
9:55 AM

We have a digital aerial that serves a television in the lounge and also one in a bedroom.
Recently we have encountered issues when the lounge television goes blank but if the bedroom television is turned on the screen returns to normal.

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BKR DE74 2NE's 1 post GB flag

4:52 PM

BKR: What method is being been used to feed the signal from the aerial to the TV's concerned? and should this be powered in any way just for a test try by-passing it.

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jb38's 7,179 posts GB flag
Steve P

5:31 PM

BKR - have you changed anything?

Where is your aerial and what do you mean by it being digiral?

If you have a masthead amplifier/splitter it may need to be powered from below by sending DC current UP the coax. You might have turned this function off on the lounge TV (knowingly or not) so the amp does not work until power from above.

Try removing and replacing all plugs - could be corrosion.

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Steve P's 1,173 posts GB flag
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