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Freeview reception has changed?

Why should my Freeview reception change when I have not changed anything?

Why should my Freeview reception change when I have not changed
published on UK Free TV

From time to time people find that their Freeview box, integrated set (idTV) or Personal Video Recorder (PVR) has lost many channels without any apparent changes.

There are a number of factors to consider

Freeview is broadcast on digital multiplexes. This means that, once broken down into a stream of bits, each television channel is combined into a single transmission of 1s and 0s. This means that reception is of the multiplex first if this is lost it affects all the channels in the multiplex in the same way.

The signal strength received by the box or TV for a particular multiplex from a given transmitter determines if the data can be received or not. So, a poor signal results in no data, an adequate signal in perfect data and a low signal in either none or all.

Poor digital signal levels do not result, as they do with old-fashioned analogue television, in a sub-standard picture or sound. Poor signals often result in a perfect data-stream, but are prone to periods of no reception. Sometimes this will be for hours, but can also be several times a minute when caused by induction from fridges, freezers, central heating systems, two-stroke scooters, baby monitors and so on.

If you have lost ALL your Freeview channels

First disconnect the aerial lead from the Freeview box or TV set and reconnect it and then follow this reset procedure to scan for channels again. If this does not result in services being restored, check the Freeview transmitters page to see if there are any engineering problems with your local transmitter.

How to check all cables, connectors and aerials

The RF connectors need to be in very good condition to work. There are two general types:

Factory-fitted connectors are very reliable as they cannot easily be taken apart, but they can be damaged by wear and tear. On the female-type the central section is often composed of two parts which can often be forced apart, resulting in a poor connection you can push them back together if this has happened with a pair of tweezers. On male connectors if the central pin is damaged, you will need a new cable. If there are any loose partials in the connector, remove them.

Another problem with these cables is that quite easy to sprain the connector at the back which causes little obvious external damage, but disconnects the internal connection. This happens often when a set-top box is pushed backwards into a cabinet.

Hand made cables can also suffer from similar problems to factory made ones and they are also prone to accidental damage from a cable being pulled. If such a connector is not firmly attached to the cable, the connector may need refitting.


Make a visual check of the cables. There are a few basic checks:

If the cable has been slashed or cut, it will not be very effective or reliable. If such a cable is fitted externally, this can allow rainwater to enter the cable and this will reduce the signal levels.

You can easily damage an RF cable by crushing it, for example in a door. If the outside of the cable has a permanent kink in the cable or has been very tightly looped, this could be the site of damage.


For reliable and effective Freeview reception, a rooftop aerial is required. It is hard to make a visual check of such an aerial without putting yourself in potential danger.

You can make a visual check of the route between the aerial and the transmitter. Any form of obstruction will damage the digital signals. In particular trees coming into leaf, as these will leech the signal before it reaches your aerial. This applies to both trees adjacent to the aerial and at a distance.

Another common problem in cities is building work. A large crane will often change position many times during the day, and if this is between your aerial and the transmitter this can reduce the signal levels in an unpredictable way.

If your system uses a booster, the power may have failed. Check the fuse to the power to the booster.

Weather problems

There are two main weather problems that effect Freeview reception.

The Inversion Effect: please see What is the Inversion Effect and why does it effect my Freeview TV reception?

Wind: high winds sometime can dislodge the aerial this results in a poor signal.

Rain: poor or old cables can fill with water and this results in a poor signal. If this happens, the cables will require replacement.

Help with Freeview, aerials?
How do I get a test card with Freeview1
I would like to know if it is possible to receive UK terrestrial Freeview servic2
I have been told I would receive too much singal from my Freeview tansmitter as 3
Can my Freeview box receive more than one BBC and ITV region?4
Is it true that my 87 year old mother is entitled to a FREE upgrade when the ana5
In this section
Official aerial installers guide to the TV spectrum future1
Which free digital TV system will give me the most reliable reception?2
High pressure causing channel loss through "Inversion"3
Digital Region Overlap4
Two frequency interference 5
Single frequency interference6

Thursday, 2 June 2011
Al Williams
12:57 PM

I have recently moved to postcode SN3 1PT and have re-tuned my idTV from scratch. I have lots of missing channels including band 2 (ITV1, C4 etc.) I can receive ITV1 and C4 via analogue although the reception is not great.

I have no other electrical devices on in the flat. I'm not sure where the aerial is located. Should I expect to receive the band 2 channels ?

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Al Williams's 2 posts EU flag
Al's: mapA's Freeview map terrainA's terrain plot wavesA's frequency data A's Freeview Detailed Coverage
Friday, 3 June 2011

8:39 AM

Al Williams: If your analogue reception is not good, then you can't really expect stable Freeview reception.

Can you use the analogue reception as a guide and try and improve the situation?

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Briantist's 38,907 posts GB flag
1:54 PM

I've retuned, moved the aerial etc etc but still not getting many channels at all. I can get ITV in the afternoon but by the evening it stops working. Is this going to be sorted once the switchover has happened or have I got a different problem? My postcode is LE5 1WA.

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Kelvin's 1 post EU flag
Kelvin's: mapK's Freeview map terrainK's terrain plot wavesK's frequency data K's Freeview Detailed Coverage
Al Williams
4:12 PM

Thanks Brian. I'm not sure what the problem is, although we are a long way from the nearest transmitter in Swindon which may partly explain it. I guess the problem is likely to be aerial related. I can't actually see where the aerial is, gonna give the landlord a ring this evening and try and find out if he knows where its located.

Assuming I can't change the aerial position,
will the reception quality improve by the digital switchover date (mid September) or am I best of going down the freesat route?

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Al Williams's 2 posts EU flag
Al's: mapA's Freeview map terrainA's terrain plot wavesA's frequency data A's Freeview Detailed Coverage
Linda Hannah
9:48 PM

Hi, the area I live in is going through the switch over. Yesterday am my tv had all the channels and now there are none. I have tried re tuning but it's not able to find any channels. My freeview box is working fine just my tv (which has freeview built in). Manufacturer of tv told me my tv was bust so bought a new one and that doesn't get a signal either. Is there anything I can do to get the channels back on my tv?

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Linda Hannah's 1 post GB flag
Saturday, 4 June 2011
J Duke
2:55 PM

I "may" have respite from the loss of groups of channels problem I reported a day or two ago: I retuned the freeview channels a second time a bit later on and the set found all the channels, with subsequent good reception on all channels. I suspect that the retune algorithm inside the set may not be totally obvious. It may have needed a clear out (which the 1st attempt to tune did) before it was in a good position to find new channels. Just guessing, but I have certainly seen analogous things in my use of software on PCs (step forward Microsoft). HTH.

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J Duke's 2 posts GB flag
J's: mapJ's Freeview map terrainJ's terrain plot wavesJ's frequency data J's Freeview Detailed Coverage
Sunday, 5 June 2011

4:30 PM

Al Williams: Your transmitter is the Sandy Heath transmitter. You should get the three public service multiplexes OK from it before 28 Sep 11, and then you might loose them again in November until 18 Apr 12.

If you have poor analogue reception is not 100% that you will get reception at switchover.

Freesat might be a good choice until 18 Apr 12 to be honest, see Compare Freeview and Freesat TV | - independent free digital TV advice .

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Briantist's 38,907 posts GB flag

5:38 PM

Kelvin: Are you using a rooftop aerial? If so, you should get all services from Sutton Coldfield from 21st September 2011, but nothing much before then.

If you use the Waltham transmitter you should have all services today.

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Briantist's 38,907 posts GB flag

5:48 PM

J Duke: Yes, you should always fully clear the channel list to reset a Freeview box if you have problems, like My Freeview box has no EPG, is blank on FIVE, ITV3, ITV4, ITV2+1, has no sound or the channel line up is wrong | - independent free digital TV advice .

The same is true for Media Centre, but you can just do a "clear channels" in the scan menu.

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Briantist's 38,907 posts GB flag
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