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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?
Why are all TVs on sale not digital?1
Do I still have to pay for a TV licence?2
I had perfect channel 5 reception - until I got a digital TV box!3
I Have a Pocket Tv For taking out so I can keep up with news and sport. Will thi4
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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

Thursday, 19 April 2012
Steve P

3:56 PM

Indeed some boxes can't do 64QAM at all.

There is a page here about it.

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Steve P's 1,173 posts GB flag
6:56 PM
High Wycombe

I live in HP10 0NE - specifically, just south of the M40 on Watery Lane. The analogue signal was not strong before - we did not get Channel 5 at all - and now that digital has arrived, we only get the BBC channels on terrestrial TV. Would a new aerial sort this out, and if so, which type might be the best bet?

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Den's 1 post GB flag
Den's: mapD's Freeview map terrainD's terrain plot wavesD's frequency data D's Freeview Detailed Coverage
Steve P

7:29 PM

... UK digital TV reception predictor

It looks like you live in a difficult area; and could be receiving either CPal or one of the local relays. Do you know which? CPal will have the ae horizontal - rods sideways - the others vertical - up/down.

Are you using an amplifier?

What do your neighbours do?

Might be worth contacting a LOCAL aerial installer who knows the area's peculiarities.

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Steve P's 1,173 posts GB flag
Friday, 20 April 2012
Katy B
9:17 AM

i have no aerial running through my house, ive just bought a hd readfy, freeview built in tv. Ive bought an indoor aerial.
I dont know where im going wrong but it wont pick up any channels. What area code is coventry as i think it might be to do with choosing area C?? any other advice is welcome as im rapidly losing my mind with something so simple. I also lent my indoor aerial to my friend who retuned her tv and it worked perfectly! how annoying... thanks!

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Katy B's 1 post EU flag
Katy's: mapK's Freeview map terrainK's terrain plot wavesK's frequency data K's Freeview Detailed Coverage
Stephen P

8:31 PM

... UK digital TV reception predictor

Katy B - there is no promise at all that an indoor aerial will get you digital TV. Did it get you analogue in same place?

Dunno what you mean by area code, but link shows the transmitters you might be ble to receive. You need to find one that you can see through a wingow and to point the aerial at it. The "Bearing" starts at 0=N 90=E 180=S 270=W. FIELD is signal strengthbut NB the strongest does not do all channels.

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Stephen P's 1,173 posts GB flag
Saturday, 21 April 2012
3:14 PM

what make of aerial flylead do you recommend please,just had new aerial fitted and installer found my tv would not recieve digital through my existing flylead, so the aerial lead is plugged directly into my tv now.
however, i made a heath robinson flylead from co axial cable, tried it, and it worked.
there are so many flyleads for sale at the moment,im confused as what to buy.
thank you kindly for your assistance.

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paul's 2 posts GB flag
Stephen P

4:20 PM

paul - every time you have a plug and socket along the path from aerial to TV set you lose some signal. So the best method is to have a single length of coax from aerial to back of TV set.

It matters little what flylead you have so long as the lead is undamaged and the plugs properly fitted and not shorting core to outer conductor. So if your home made onw works, use it. Sounds like your existing one is damaged/shorting.

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Stephen P's 1,173 posts GB flag
George Silvester
7:19 PM

Our tv is always blocking with freeview and we have a digital aerial,any advice please.

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George Silvester's 1 post GB flag
Dave Lindsay

8:02 PM

George Silvester: In order to help with reception problems, knowledge of your location is necessary in order for a prediction to be made of the likely strength of signals in your area. A post code is preferred; give on of a local business if you don't wish to give your own.

When did this problem start? Are you in the London region and have therefore completed switchover last Wednesday? Did the problem start then?

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Dave Lindsay's 5,724 posts GB flag
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