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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
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

Wednesday, 19 January 2011
9:47 PM


I have recently brought freeview HD TV with a built in Freeview HD Tuner. I can receive all freeview channels but no HD. The signal strength is excellent and quality too.
I live in the IP32 area and had my aerial tuned in to Talconeston which said freeview is availbale from November 2010.
Is Talconeton on full power for HD or is there a problem with my aerial? If so, what model of aerial would you recommend to get HD
Can anyone help?

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David's 1 post GB flag
Thursday, 20 January 2011

5:43 AM

David: Tacolneston starts Freeview HD transmissions on Wednesday 23rd November 2011, see Freeview on Tacolneston TV transmitter | - independent free digital TV advice .

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Briantist's 38,915 posts GB flag
Friday, 21 January 2011
12:34 PM


Looks like a very helpful site.

We have just bought a Humax PVR which works fine but often can't pick up BBC stations, though we could receive BBC on the previous freeview box and still can on the TV. The aerial is in the loft (I note what you have said about inside aerials)and the signal is from Sutton Coldfield (changeover 9/11). Are we best to hang on for the digital switchover or should we try another aerial now?
Thanks for your help.

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Denise's 1 post GB flag
8:50 PM
Great Yarmouth


We have just bought a Samsung 32" LED TV with inbuilt freeview tuner. Old TV receives all freeview channels with freeview box, small flatscreen in bedroom receives all freeview channels with its inbuilt freeview.

New above mentioned TV will not receieve Multiplex 2 (ITV, CH4 etc).

Can you advise a reason and/or solution?

Thank you.

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Vicky's 1 post GB flag
Vicky's: mapV's Freeview map terrainV's terrain plot wavesV's frequency data V's Freeview Detailed Coverage
Saturday, 22 January 2011

6:49 PM

Denise: Humax PVR's have excellent receivers as far as sensitivity is concerned and before deciding on anything I would (if possible) first of all try side to side trimming of your loft aerial whilst observing the results on the Humax signal condition scale.

Try it first by selecting BBC1 (if listed on the EPG, if not carry out a re-scan) then press the MENU button, select SYSTEM then SIGNAL CONDITION and have a check at the signal strength and quality readings and make a note of, then back out of the menu and change the channel to ITV1 and repeat the process. (Menu, System, Signal condition)

If you give an update on your findings then further advice can be given as required.

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jb38's 81 posts GB flag

7:05 PM

Vicky: This could possibly be caused by the possibility of maintenance or other work having been going on at the station you receive your signal from at the same time as you carried out the new TV's scan, the other boxes only working because they already have ITV, Ch4 etc in their EPG, so you have to carry out another scan as the missing stations will not be received until they are shown in the TV's EPG.

If by any chance a re-scan makes no difference carry out a test by trying your bedroom TV on the new Samsungs aerial lead.

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jb38's 81 posts GB flag
Terry r
8:52 PM

hi thanks for previous help Briantech,i have put up a new aerial on the facia it is positioned very closely to a old non used aerial,we do get a good picture on 4 channels but no freeview ,any suggests,thanks terry

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Terry r's 4 posts GB flag
Terry's: mapT's Freeview map terrainT's terrain plot wavesT's frequency data T's Freeview Detailed Coverage
Monday, 24 January 2011
Des Collier

7:02 PM

Terry R- move your new aerial away,or remove the old one all together,2 aerials too close together can totally mess things up.

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Des Collier's 171 posts GB flag
Jim Buckle
9:00 PM

Hello. Just got a Samsung HDTV with Freeview tuner. Have been using a digital set top box up till now attached to a Maplin fin aerial with a mast head amp mounted on the roof.
The aerial is line of sight to the wrekin transmitter which is less than 5 miles away.
Set top box had 68 channels (DTV + Radio)
Samsung HDTV will not store any of the digital channels, but finds all 5 analogue with crystal clear picture. Any thoughts?

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Jim Buckle's 1 post GB flag
Tuesday, 25 January 2011

1:36 PM

Not quite sure what's meant by a Maplin fin aerial? however if you have been receiving freeview perfectly OK with your previous set up and you haven't changed anything except for the new TV, then apart from your masthead amp becoming un-powered there is no reason why you shouldn't be getting freeview channels on your new TV.

You should carry out another DVB scan on your TV, but should this still fail to receive any DTT channels purely for test purposes reinstall your set top box coupled into your Samsung via a scart lead, and if this proves to be receiving OK as before then I would suspect a DVB fault on your new set.

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jb38's 81 posts GB flag
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