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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

Tuesday, 12 June 2012
Dave Lindsay

11:45 PM

Stuart Mcfarlane: See this page and identify which multiplexes are affected:

DMOL Post-DSO Multiplex Channel Allocations

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Dave Lindsay's 5,724 posts GB flag
Saturday, 16 June 2012
12:16 PM

Hi, can anyone help?
BBC channels on my television (I.e. 1,2,7,70?,bbc news etc) have all disappeared off my tv since yesterday. The tv has free view? I've tried retuning and also carried out a factory reset, checked ariel connection, unplugged everything and started from scratch, all to no avail. Any ideas please.
Thanks, Tracy

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Tracy's 2 posts GB flag
Tracy's: mapT's Freeview map terrainT's terrain plot wavesT's frequency data T's Freeview Detailed Coverage
Sunday, 17 June 2012

1:04 PM

Hi tracy where in liverpool do you live

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Mazbar's 384 posts GB flag
Dave Lindsay

2:40 PM

Mazbar: Follow the link to DUK Tradeview or hover your mouse over the links on the right of Tracy's posting to see her post code displayed in the status bar at the bottom of your screen.

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Dave Lindsay's 5,724 posts GB flag

2:49 PM

Tracey: Are there any BBC channels in the 800s of the channel list?

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KMJ,Derby's 1,811 posts GB flag
Mark Fletcher

3:14 PM

Tracy,Liverpool.Is your aerial polarised horizontally facing Winter Hill or possibly Moel-Y-Parc,or is it polarised vertically facing a local relay in your vicinity.If you provide a full postcode as such,the true experts on here Briantist,Mike Dimmick,JB38,KMJ,Derby,etc,will provide ever valuable information and assistance to help your current situation as such.

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Mark Fletcher's 673 posts GB flag
Mark's: mapM's Freeview map terrainM's terrain plot wavesM's frequency data M's Freeview Detailed Coverage
Monday, 18 June 2012
2:40 PM

Since the natiowide switch over which has been working ok - I have had a new aerial installed which is on the roof and is an all singing receptor - during the very windy period last week the picture and sound has frozen - is this to do with the windy conditions I have one tv which has digital installed and the other has a freeview box both connected to the same aerial. The free view box set is fine it is the digital tv that freezes any advice please or is it just instability due to the windy conditions.

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Anne's 1 post GB flag
Mark Fletcher

5:32 PM

Anne.Unless you provide a full postcode or nearby location as such we cannot be of valuable help to you !

link to this comment
Mark Fletcher's 673 posts GB flag
Mark's: mapM's Freeview map terrainM's terrain plot wavesM's frequency data M's Freeview Detailed Coverage
Friday, 22 June 2012
6:39 PM

I've retuned my feeview tv but can't get itv meridian SE anymore why is that

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S R LOVEll's 1 post GB flag
Mark Fletcher

6:51 PM

SR LOVE II.Unless you leave a full postcode preferably or a nearby location as such,we cannot be of much help to you !

link to this comment
Mark Fletcher's 673 posts GB flag
Mark's: mapM's Freeview map terrainM's terrain plot wavesM's frequency data M's Freeview Detailed Coverage
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