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Five million London homes must 'full retune' when switchover ends on 18th April

If you are one of the millions of people who live inside the M25 - or up to 15 miles outside the capital's orbital motorway - you will need to perform a 'first time' retune on your Freeview TV or set-top box when you get up for breakfast on Wednesday morning.

If you are one of the millions of people who live inside the M2
published on UK Free TV
Starting at moments after Big Ben strikes midnight on Wednesday 18th April, the next switchover of 2012 will see the number of homes with digital-only terrestrial reception in the UK go up by 4,853,500 from 71.0% to 89.4%.

Viewers in Greater London and around the M25 who use the Crystal Palace, Hemel Hempstead, Guildford and Reigate "full Freeview" transmitters (and about 50 smaller relay transmitters) will have no analogue television from Wednesday 18th April 2012. Unless you use cable or satellite to watch television, if you don't use a Freeview box or set, your screen will be blank.

Do not expect ANY FREEVIEW television service from midnight until 6am - or a late as mid-afternoon on some relay transmitters (see below for timetable). This means you will not be able to record Freeview programmes overnight. --- but you can watch online here - Watch live UK TV channels and listen to live radio now.

Most people need only perform a "full retune" (or "factory reset" or "shipping condition") on their Freeview box or TV, but it would be impossible with five million homes covered by the transmitters, for no-one to have a problem.

From Wednesday 18th April 2012 you MUST have a digital television device to watch TV. If you do not have a digital receiver, from Wednesday will have a blank screen.

You will be served by the Freeview HD service from Wednesday, but please see this six-point checklist to ensure you really are watching in high definition: Are you really watching free TV in high definition?

Switchover help scheme

If you are over 75, get (or could get) Disability Living Allowance, Attendance Allowance, Constant Attendance Allowance or mobility supplement; or have lived in a care home for six months or more; or are registered blind or partially sighted and need assistance, please see The Switchover Help Scheme.

Cable and satellite

Cable (Virgin Media) and satellite (Sky, Freesat, fSfS) viewers are not affected by the changes. Remember, however, that you may be using analogue TV to watch on a second or third set and it might need a Freeview box.

Existing "full" Freeview users

If you already use Freeview, and can receive all the channels now, check your TV or box is not listed here - TVs and boxes that do not support the 8k-mode. If it is, you will need a new Freeview box.

If you are not on the list, you should scan your box from around 6am.

When you now rescan, you MUST do a "first time installation" or "factory reset" scan (sometimes called "shipping state"), not a simple "add channels". Do the procedure you did on "national retune day", September 30th 2009, see Freeview Retune - list of manuals.

If you can't recall the procedure or find the manual, please see generic clear and rescan procedure.

If you scanned during the first phase of switchover on Wednesday 4th April 2012 - you will have to do it again on Wednesday 18th April 2012.

Using Freeview with Windows Vista

Please see Switch over and PC-based systems because you need some updates for your system to work.

Boosters and amplifiers

If you live close to the transmitter, you may have to disconnect any "boosters" from your aerial system. The new, more powerful digital signals may overload any amplifiers and result in no reception! When looking for them include a check for distribution amplifiers, loft boxes, set back amplifiers, bypass Amplifiers, hidden masthead amps in a loft space and any dodgy active splitters.

For full details, see: Freeview signals: too much of a good thing is bad for you.

Homes without Freeview now have Freeview Light

If you had no Freeview service before, you will have the BBC channels digitally from Wednesday 4th April2012. This is a single multiplex of the BBC channels (radio, television and text) for most people.

However, if you were on the fringes of reception from one of the main Freeview transmitters, you will now get all the Freeview channels.

If you didn't get this limited Freeview service on Wednesday 4th April 2012 then you may need a new aerial.

If you are served by a public service (relay) transmitter, which are:

Alexandra Palace, Assendon (noon), Biggin Hill (noon), Bishops Stortford, Cane Hill (11am), Caterham (noon), Chepping Wycombe, Chesham, Chingford (11am), Croydon (Old Town) (noon), Dorking (noon), East Grinstead (noon), Edmonton (3pm), Farningham (noon), Finchley (1pm), Forest Row, Gravesend, Great Missenden (noon), Greenwich (4pm), Hammersmith (1pm), Hampstead Heath (3pm), Hemel Hempstead Town, Henley-on-Thames, Hertford, High Wycombe, Hughenden (3pm), Kenley, Kensal Town, Lea Bridge (3pm), Marlow Bottom (3pm), Micklefield (noon), Mickleham (3pm), New Addington (4pm), New Barnet (11am), Old Coulsdon (2pm), Orpington (3pm), Otford (3pm), Poplar (1pm), Skirmett (3pm), St Albans (noon), Sutton, Walthamstow North (11am), Welwyn, West Wycombe (3pm), Wonersh, Wooburn (noon), Woolwich, Worlds End (4pm) now need, from around from 9am (unless shown otherwise) on 18th April 2012 to rescan, and you will get a second Multiplex with ITV 1, ITV 2, ITV 1 +1, Channel 4, Channel 5, Channel 4+1, E4 and More4.

And that's your lot if you have a standard Freeview receiver, see Freeview retune - poor public service transmitters.

You may wish to install Freesat for more channels, see Compare Freeview Light and Freesat TV.

Overlap with other regions

Because of the location of the transmitters, some viewers away from Central London will find that they can pick up the signal from other BBC and ITV 1 regional studios.

Those viewers with "Freeview HD" (or other so called D-Book 7) receivers will find they are presented with a menu to allow them to pick which BBC One region is shown on "button 1", and which ITV 1 regions appears as channel 3.

Viewers with older equipment may have to resort to doing a manual scan C22, C23, C25, C26, C28 and C30- to get the correct signal for the Crystal Palace transmitter.

All Freeview boxes automatically scan the available broadcast frequencies looking for channels, and they do this from C21 to C69. Older Freeview boxes will, if a duplicate version of a channel is found whilst scanning, such as another BBC One region, placed it in the 800-899 channel range. br>
Some Freeview boxes will pick the strongest signals for the "primary" number positions, and some will detect the different regions providing a choice when you perform a "scan for channels".

For more details, see: Digital Region Overlap

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Saturday, 14 April 2012

4:20 PM

Boy am I glad I have got all Sky boxes which I never had to "retune". To me this is a big failure of freeview especially for non technical people.

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trevorjharris's 367 posts GB flag

4:48 PM

Peter Smith: Done. Sorry about that.

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Briantist's 38,915 posts GB flag

5:24 PM

trevorjharris: The trouble with Sky (and Freesat) is the channels that are automatically tuned in are only the ones that they want you to have. There are others available that have to be added manually if required. Automatic updating was incorporated into some Freeview receivers, but in practice this is more trouble than it is worth, with other regions or continental channels replacing the required selection in the channel list when weather conditions produce the inversion effect! I'm not sure whether the latest Freeview boxes, that require a preferred region to be entered, will automatically add channels or update the frequencies when these are changed.

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KMJ,Derby's 1,811 posts GB flag

10:12 PM

KMJ,Derby: D-Book 7 says

"Viewers should be given the choice to permanently ignore the change, instigate a receiver retune, or postpone the retune for a later time. The subsequent display of the message for postponed retunes is at the discretion of the manufacturer.

During installation and subsequent full UHF band retunes, receivers shall be able to manage receiving signals from multiple transmitters each with multiple multiplexes each with multiple services as defined .. and shall be capable of storing the total number of services ..."

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Briantist's 38,915 posts GB flag
Sunday, 15 April 2012
Marion Bristow
2:39 PM

We live just outside Bedford. Our freeview has always been a bit sketchy, but over the past week we have had dreadful pixilation and loss of signal across the board. Currently we have no ITV1, Channels 4 or 5 and several freeview channels are also poor or non-existant.

I am told there are no problems with Sandy Heath transmitter.....great!

We have retuned and all that does is lose another channel - hence why we lost 4 and 5 this morning!!

Bring back the good old days of analogue when at least we could get the four main channels all the time - digital has been a constant source of aggravation!

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Marion Bristow's 1 post GB flag
Dave Lindsay

2:52 PM

Marion Bristow: It is difficult to be specific only knowing that you live near Bedford. However, it is quite close to the transmitter and your could therefore be in a situation where the aerial is picking up too much signal and overloading the tuner. As signal levels vary over time due to atmospherics, perhaps at times it gets too high for your receiver to cope with.

Unless the channels stored in your receiver's memory are incorrect, then retuning is a waste of time and can only ever leave you without the channels being stored in the memory or with the channels stored in the memory as they were before you retuned. Therefore the affect can only ever be negative or neutral and not positive.

Have a look at this page:

Freeview signals: too much of a good thing is bad for you | - independent free digital TV advice

If you have a signal booster, then remove it. If not, then try fitting an attenuator to reduce the signal levels.

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Dave Lindsay's 5,724 posts GB flag
Monday, 16 April 2012
8:34 PM

I carried out the the first re-tune on Freeview but now find that channel 10 has disappeared .. goes fro 9 to 11 now. And when I tap in 10, it tells me that this channel is 'not available' I think channel 10 is ITV 3 isn't it? Any idea why it should just drop off? And how can I get it back?

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Derek's 2 posts GB flag
Dave Lindsay

8:56 PM

Derek: The problem could be caused by the period in between first and second stage of switchover where BBC standard definition channels are at their full final power and the rest remain at low pre-switchover power. Thus, it should hopefully right itself when you retune on Wednesday.

If you are receiving from Crystal Palace and your receiver has manual tuning, then tune to channel 32.

If you are receiving from Reigate, then manually tune to channel 24. If it's the Hemel Hempstead transmitter that you are using, then it's C68 and for Guildford you need to tune to C41.

If, having attempted to manually tune, it doesn't find anything or what is found is not strong enough, then I think you'll have to wait until Wednesday.

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Dave Lindsay's 5,724 posts GB flag
Tuesday, 17 April 2012

7:50 AM

Let's hope this will finally resolve the power output problems from Oxford that we have been promised since our switch over last September.

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Robert's 75 posts GB flag

1:07 PM

hi there i live in RG8 8DB i get London and Oxford transmissions.. now i am worried that i will have to remove one of the areials off the system.... Because i have 26 db boosters on both areials as my area is very poor reception.. now i am worried once london switches to full power its going to give me a major headache to change or remove my masthead boosters... i know for a fact right now taking the boosters out render me no signal at all

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robert's 171 posts GB flag
robert's: mapR's Freeview map terrainR's terrain plot wavesR's frequency data R's Freeview Detailed Coverage
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