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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.

Help with Television sets?
Why are all TVs on sale not digital?1
Do I still have to pay for a TV licence?2
I had perfect channel 5 reception - until I got a digital TV box!3
I Have a Pocket Tv For taking out so I can keep up with news and sport. Will thi4
The pictures from my digital box are all green!5
In this section
Loft aerials1
Do I need to buy a booster?2
How to receive Freeview on your PC3
Indoor aerials4
Whole house digital TV5
Connecting it all up6

Monday, 17 January 2011
Wednesday, 19 January 2011
Jason B
12:01 PM

Hi, was wondering if anyone has some advice. I got my mother a new TV for Christmas. She previously had a set-top box which picked up all Freeview channels, though one of her favourite shopping channels (sigh) Rocks and Co which I think is on Ch40 would come and go depending on the weather.

I tuned the new TV at my house where we get all the new HD channels as well -- brilliant! We took it to hers the next day (RG41 Wokingham, not due to switch over until 2012 sadly) and at first even the HD channels worked, although the signal broke up a bit so we re-tuned. After that we not only couldn't get HD channels at all, but a number of regular Freeview channels didn't show up, and Ch40 is not there at all!

I was reading this page about aerial types. The current one is roof mounted, set quite high above the roofline, but I think it's an old one. Would you advise getting a high-gain digital type aerial? Might that even help retrieve the HD channels? :-) Any other advice? Might pointing at a different transmitter work?

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Jason B's 2 posts GB
Jason B
12:33 PM

OK so have found some other pages here that were helpful in my understanding, so partly replying to my own question...

It looks like initially picking up HD channels must have come from Crystal Palace as nowhere else is transmitting them. From memory, the aerial isn't pointing in that direction though and I see there are a number of nearer transmitters. I'm thinking that my mother receives the local news so that would indicate she gets signal from a nearby transmitter.

So... the coverage map for Crystal Palace looks as though it reaches RG41 in the green area. Are there any issues (apart from I guess she will receive BBC/ITV London news) to bear in mind if we tried to point the aerial at Crystal Palace? Is interference likely?

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Jason B's 2 posts GB

12:45 PM

Jason B: No, your primary transmitter is Crystal Palace.

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Briantist's 38,844 posts GB
5:24 PM

I had rooftop airiel which has been working well with all my Freeview channels. Now i cannot receive signal, although sometimes there are few channels operating at night. I have seen device in radio times; "new amplified indoor TV aerial from Neostar, £35 appx". It claims it provides up to 50db signal gain (whatever that means?). My question is, am i wasting my money, and should i just get professional company in to fix/replace aerial?? Thanx for help

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MARK FINN's 2 posts GB
mark finn
5:26 PM

did you receive my question ?

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mark finn's 2 posts GB

5:48 PM

mark finn: Get your rooftop aerial fixed. Indoor aerials are unsuitable for stable Freeview reception.

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Briantist's 38,844 posts GB
6:04 PM

Hi I have a block only on itv in the west country I have checked with a friend and they have the same what is the reason for this
my reception is from stockland hill

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Gareth's 2 posts GB
6:07 PM

I have a dat75 type 1 aerial

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Gareth's 2 posts GB

6:12 PM

Gareth: What does "a block only" mean?

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Briantist's 38,844 posts GB
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