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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
The pictures from my digital box are all green!5
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

Saturday, 29 January 2011
6:50 PM

i've read that there is no such thing as a digital ariel,is this true.

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D.Jukes's 1 post GB flag
Mike Dimmick

7:31 PM

D.Jukes: absolutely true. The aerial is designed to pick up a certain range of frequencies, and the frequencies carrying digital multiplexes have been slotted in, at most sites, between the existing analogue frequencies.

At sites that have switched over to digital-only transmissions, they have often taken over the old analogue frequencies.

The aerial is completely dumb - it simply causes the signal broadcast over the air to appear as electrical signals on the cable. All the tuning and decoding is done by the TV.

In a few cases, the digital signals could not all be fitted into the same frequency range as the analogue ones, and you might need a 'wideband' aerial that covers more than one of the groups. Or, at some relay sites, all signals may have moved to a different group. A wideband aerial can never be as good as a grouped aerial of the same size, however. Check the information for your local transmitter.

If you got a good analogue signal before switchover, and all the transmissions from your local transmitter are within the group that was used for analogue, you should not need a new aerial.

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Mike Dimmick's 2,486 posts GB flag
Mike's: mapM's Freeview map terrainM's terrain plot wavesM's frequency data M's Freeview Detailed Coverage
Monday, 31 January 2011
A Parish
2:55 PM

I am in the BBC East (Woodbridge) area and it seems as if switch-over is going to start in March. We have checked Freeview website it appears to saying we will not be able to get Freeview after switch-over. At present we receive our signal from Sudbury.
We live on the edge of a town with approximately 7500 people so are not in an isolated area. We quite recently, after having taken advice we could get, fitted a new high gain class 2 aerial (on a 20 ft pole) to get the five terrestrial channels which we receive without a problem , thinking all that we would need to do was to purchase a set-top box to serve us until we replaced our TV etc. We had the whole house re-cabled with double shielded coaxial cable and if the only way to get television after the switch-over is via satellite dish then this cabling is a wasted investment. When this cabling and new aerial were installed there was no suggestion that we would have to go via the satellite route.

I may have read the details incorrectly, but it is seeming to suggest that we will not be receiving anything unless we pay, I object to giving Sky any money after the way they treated a member of the family, I do not see why I should have to change to BT broadband - which means changing email addresses too, we are not in a cable area so cannot connect via our preferred ISP, the broadband in this area is slow (whatever provider is chosen) finally our house is of a construction that makes fitting a satellite dish difficult. Does this mean that switch-over for us really means switch off!

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A Parish's 1 post GB flag
A's: mapA's Freeview map terrainA's terrain plot wavesA's frequency data A's Freeview Detailed Coverage

7:48 PM

A Parish: You will get Freeview light from the Woodbridge transmitter from Wednesday, 6th July 2011.

You need do no more than buy a Freeview box.

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Briantist's 38,906 posts GB flag
Tuesday, 1 February 2011
3:00 PM

i have just brought a new tv, sanyo, with built in freeview. i tuned it in but cannot get five us. i could get it on my old tv but not channel 5, now i can get channel 5 but not five us?????

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lorraine's 1 post GB flag
Saturday, 5 February 2011
Heather Martinez
7:33 PM

please can you help and explain why i cant get any channels on my freeview box except sky 3 when the weather is bad,ie windy,snowing,raining, but it works perfectly well in the summer. I live in Crawley, West Sussex where the signal is supposed to be very good, may I add my neighbour never has any problems at all.

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Heather Martinez's 8 posts GB flag
Heather's: mapH's Freeview map terrainH's terrain plot wavesH's frequency data H's Freeview Detailed Coverage

7:34 PM

Heather Martinez: Is your aerial on the roof?

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Briantist's 38,906 posts GB flag
Sunday, 6 February 2011
james northage
9:17 AM

When we on freeview picture keeps going all blotchy freezes all broken speech tune in and still the same analogue tv is fine.Aerial outside on roof live at nottingham ng14 7fr

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james northage's 1 post GB flag
james's: ...
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