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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

Thursday, 10 March 2011
7:22 AM

hi, i live in sutton in ashfield in the midlands, but currently receiving bbc look north, would prefer to get east midlands today tv, what do i need to do to receive east midlands tv? please help!

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adrian's 3 posts GB

7:28 AM

adrian: You need to point your aerial at the transmitter with the regional services you wish to view.

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Briantist's 38,844 posts GB
8:03 AM

thanks for the response,but where can i find out the direction for nottingham???

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adrian's 3 posts GB
8:08 AM

thats brilliant, thankyou very much for the help. :-)

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adrian's 3 posts GB

8:23 AM

adrian: You need to use Waltham, by the way, not Nottingham.

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Briantist's 38,844 posts GB
Monday, 21 March 2011
3:09 PM

I know that this is strictly outside the remit of this forum, but any advice would be appreciated. I am looking to replace my digital aerial in Spain. Would a UK aerial be compatible and if so which one - high gain or wide band?

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Paul's 1 post GB
Mike Dimmick

6:41 PM

Paul: A UHF aerial is a UHF aerial, wherever you are. There is no such thing as a digital aerial. Some of the massive constructions that people think of as 'digital' aerials are made by Televs, a Spanish manufacturer.

Gain and bandwidth are two different properties of an aerial. For a given number of elements, a narrower bandwidth provides higher gain. You usually get best results from an aerial that just covers the frequency range you need.

I'd recommend getting a local installer to select and fit a new aerial. They should know what range of frequencies is being broadcast, at what power, by the local transmitter and therefore what aerial is most appropriate.

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Mike Dimmick's 2,486 posts GB
Tuesday, 22 March 2011

6:46 AM

Paul: You will need a wideband aerial in Spain, as the national services use common frequencies on single frequency networks (SFN), and local TV services use the other frequencies (MFN).

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Briantist's 38,844 posts GB
Thursday, 24 March 2011
John Davenport
1:06 PM

According to the digital reception map, freeview reception will be best after switchover from the Sutton Coldfield transmitter, but due to trees at the back of our house there is no direct line of sight, so we have our aerial currently directed towards the Wrekin transmitter. We currently cannot receive channets such as ITV 4. Do you think we should redirect the aerial to Stton after the switchover (3rd phase) in September? Our postcode is WV4 5NH.

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John Davenport's 1 post GB
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