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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

Saturday, 9 July 2011
11:55 AM

We had a new aerial fitted in the last year which is pointed towards Hannington - from whence our TV has been received for past 35+ years. We have HD ready TV and had been experiencing intermittent ITV or BBC channels with poor or no signal. I re-tuned the TV and since then we either have some days ITV some days BBC. In essence we can no longer really sit and watch other than DVDs; BT vision on demand is unaffected, but BT vision using freeview is exactly the same. Analogue TV with indoor freestanding aerial is fine! Any ideas?

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Nicky's 1 post GB flag
Nicky's: mapN's Freeview map terrainN's terrain plot wavesN's frequency data N's Freeview Detailed Coverage

3:32 PM

Nicky if your aerial is under 12 months old call the aerial rigger who fitted it and ask him to call back to check it out. If it is still under 12 months old there shouldn't be a charge that being said if the problem is with your tv there will be a call out charge ie the tuning picking up wrong channels from the wrong transmitter

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Mazbar's 384 posts GB flag
Sunday, 10 July 2011
10:04 PM

On channels 3 to 6 we have multicolored vertical stripes with a faint picture behind. Sound is OK. I Ihave rescanned but same result. Other channels are fine. Is this to do with ongoing work on the SC transmitter? It's one thing after another latley - no EPG half the time and haven't been able to rely on recording anything either.

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Jill's 6 posts GB flag
Monday, 11 July 2011
11:14 PM

I used to receive all Freeview channels on my TV (freeview built in), now i don't recieve ITV4 or Film 4. Why is this ? Can anyone suggest a solution please ?

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Jamie's 1 post GB flag
Tuesday, 12 July 2011

8:54 AM

Jamie: What is your postcode?- so a check can be made of which transmissions are expected to be receivable at your location.

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KMJ,Derby's 1,811 posts GB flag
Tuesday, 19 July 2011
Neil Hunter
10:36 PM

Hi - we live at BN25 2BU - Seaford, East Sussex. We go through a bounced off signal from Newhaven to the Heathfield transmitter (the one that was turned down south facing in case it annoys the French). We've mostly always able to watch BBC Parliament, CCBeebies, BBC4, and the red button, with some radio with a reasonable signal. For one week now, all channels mostly didn't work, and have stopped working totally now. The weather has altered in that time, and we've had exactly the same situation for 2.5 years, so I presume it's something at Heathfield or Newhaven?

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Neil Hunter's 2 posts GB flag
Neil's: mapN's Freeview map terrainN's terrain plot wavesN's frequency data N's Freeview Detailed Coverage
Wednesday, 20 July 2011

8:56 AM

Neil Hunter: The Newhaven transmitter has no digital services until next year. Your best transmitter to use would be Rowridge, which is to your west. You are outside the Heathfeild coverage area.

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Briantist's 38,915 posts GB flag
Friday, 22 July 2011
Shaun Nelson
11:18 PM

Hi. My parents have a Sony VD3 set top box. They told me that everything is fine except channel 5. Select 5 and picture appears for about 10 seconds the screnn goes blank. I found this hard to believe but its true. I thought it may be something to do with set up, parental control, channel skip etc, but its not. I tried swapping channel 4 and 5 so that 5 was in slot 4 and vise versa. No difference - channel 4 was fine but 5 went blank after 10 seconds. Its fine on every other channel. I consider myself tech-savvy but this is a mistery. searched net to no avail.

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Shaun Nelson's 2 posts GB flag
Saturday, 23 July 2011

8:21 AM

Shaun Nelson: Could you please confirm the model number, given the one given doesn't register anywhere, however you should carry out a factory reset on the box, re-scanning immediately afterwards as the problem "may" be caused by a glitch somewhere along the line.

Another thing I would check (even before re-setting) is that even although the picture has gone off go into the tuning menu "whilst still on the channel" and check what the signal is showing as strength / quality wise, as this could be a factor in the problem, this where an indication of location would also be of assistance to enable reception possibilities to be checked.

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jb38's 7,179 posts GB flag
Neil Hunter
8:18 PM

Briantist - many thanks for your reply. We have been living in the house for 2.5 years now, and have been able to get BBC4 and Cbeebies, with several radio stations. Our arial, along with all the others around us, point to Newhaven. However, for the last 2 weeks, they have all gone. We've had all types of weather since then, so nothing has changed with us. It has to be a transmitter. So what could have suddenly gone wrong?

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Neil Hunter's 2 posts GB flag
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