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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
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Wednesday, 28 March 2012
Mrs Helen Clenshaw
11:02 AM

I have a Philips flat screne TV but is not HD what Freeview or Freesat box can I get? thanks

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Mrs Helen Clenshaw's 2 posts GB flag
Mrs's: mapM's Freeview map terrainM's terrain plot wavesM's frequency data M's Freeview Detailed Coverage

6:02 PM

Mrs Helen Clenshaw: I realise you have said that your TV is not HD but is it HD ready? insomuch can you see a socket on the rear marked HDMI? and are you thinking along the lines of purely a receiver or a PVR, both being able to be obtained as either a Freeview or a Freesat types, these devices being "easy to use" tuner / recorders.

Further advice dependent on answer.

PS: Model number of TV in question would be of assistance.

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jb38's 7,179 posts GB flag
Steve P

6:57 PM

HC - the simplest answer to your question is "ANY".

Think of the TV as simply a picture display unit with a built in tuner box - perhaps only for redundant analogue TV.

Freeview/Freesat boxes, with or without recording capacity, need a picture display unit. So you use the picture bit of the TV, by-passing its internal tuner box.

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Steve P's 1,173 posts GB flag
Friday, 30 March 2012
1:21 PM

I have a philips flat screen television. Since 28th Feb i have had problems with receiving itv channels. This week i had a new aerial installed but still have the same problem. The aerial installer said i am receiving signalls from to many transmitters what can i do to fix this?

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May's 1 post GB flag
Dave Lindsay

2:21 PM

May: What's the nature of the problem? Is it "forgetting" some channels when you switch it off?

To suggest a workaround to the problem, we need to know what transmitter you should be picking up and those that you are probably picking up that you need to avoid. To work this out, please can you provide your location? And the direction of your aerial (or transmitter which it is directed at) ?

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Dave Lindsay's 5,724 posts GB flag
Steve P

3:21 PM

May that is rather what your aerial installer should have sorted out if doing his job properly.

Mainly a matter of the right aerial pointing in the right direction.

Have you paid him?

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Steve P's 1,173 posts GB flag

6:41 PM

Steve p you are wrong i have worked on a Philips tv and they are hard work i had an instlation pointing to winter hill but still ended up with storton wood wales and yorkshire as well as winter hill so it is not about the way the aerial is facing a strong antenuator might remove the weaker signals from other transmitters.

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Mazbar's 384 posts GB flag
Steve P

11:58 PM

Mazbar - surely it is the profession of the installer to get proper reception using whatever combination of aerials, amplifiers, attenuators, and filters is needed?

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Steve P's 1,173 posts GB flag
Saturday, 31 March 2012

6:52 PM

Steve p you are not an aerial rigger i see an aerial will pick signal up from lots of different directions When you get lots of different transmitters normaly the one you point the aerial at is the strongest so reducing the signal can get rid of the other transmitters but this isnt allways the case, i have had an aerial pointing to winter hill giving a signal strength of an average of 46 dbuv but signal from wales coming in off the back of the aerial of 50dbuv this is when problems come in filters can work but are hard to get from dealers and customers wont pay.

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Mazbar's 384 posts GB flag
Sunday, 1 April 2012
Steve P

12:58 AM

Mazbar I am not an aerial rigger but I do have some understanding of the technology involved.

You are an aerial rigger but have revealed in your previous posts here that your technical training is perhaps limited.

Aerials certainly will receive signals from the "wrong" direction. Depending on design they will do this differently at different frequencies and angles.

Your expertise should be to study the signals likely to be available at a location, then select an aerial design and amplifiers/attenuators/filters which will provide what is wanted and not what is not wanted.

It is of course something of a black art, which is why I recommend people to pay a local expert for his knowledge.

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Steve P's 1,173 posts GB flag
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