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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

Sunday, 6 February 2011
Johno 444
8:21 PM

Hi Briantist,

A few weeks ago, we lost almost all of our freeview channels. Now we can only receive the ones on DTV CH53 for some reason. Postcode is TS11 8JR.

Any ideas why this might have happpened? We have a venturer TV with built in freeview.

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Johno 444's 2 posts GB
Johno 444
8:46 PM


I don't mean to be ungrateful, but...

I saw that but i'm not sure it explains why a load of channels would suddenly vanish? Or how I get them back?

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Johno 444's 2 posts GB
8:48 PM
Burgess Hill

why can I not get the hd channels? I can get most of the freeview channels so I do not understand why I can't get HD. I live in RH15 9BL. Also, do you deal with other problems like DVD recorders?

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Michelle's 13 posts GB

8:52 PM

Michelle: Freeview HD is not aviliable to you until 2012.

If you want HD, you will have to install Freesat HD or wait until 2012 AND buy a Freeview HD box.

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Briantist's 38,844 posts GB

8:54 PM

Johno 444: The most likely explanations at the moment are, either:

1) The Inversion Effect, What is the Inversion Effect and why does it effect my Freeview TV reception?
| - independent free digital TV advice
due to the high pressure conditions over parts of the UK;


2) The bad weather has caused damaged to your aerial or water has got into your cables.

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Briantist's 38,844 posts GB
Wednesday, 9 February 2011
4:44 PM

I live in Taunton (TA1) and get excellent Freeview reception (signal strength 10) from Mendip. However, I get the message 'no signal' for Channel 89 (Al Jazeera English).
Why is this?

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Jack's 2 posts GB
Thursday, 10 February 2011

8:28 AM

Jack: The channel is only on air during the evening, it could be that?

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Briantist's 38,844 posts GB
Heather Martinez
5:10 PM

Yes my aerial is on the roof

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Heather Martinez's 8 posts GB

7:39 PM

Heather Martinez: OK. I would expect that there is water getting into your aerial cables. You will probably need to have the aerial cables replaced.

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Briantist's 38,844 posts GB
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