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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, 17 December 2011
6:25 PM

My aerial is in the loft and I was getting decent pictures on both the freeview box and tv (using the digital tuner). After the analogue signal was terminated, I was initially getting blocky pictures on freeview. The picture quality (blocks) got worse quite quickly and the breaking up of picture became very common. I live in Tamworth and Sutton coldfield is around 10 miles away. Please can anyone tell me what cause of action I could take ? I was getting a good picture before the digital switch over and confused how come the picture are so blocky and prone to frequent break up after the switch over. P.s. I have retune and reset the tv and digital box etc.

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kc's 2 posts GB
Dave Lindsay

6:38 PM

kc: I can think of two possibilities (both may apply):

1. Your receiver has tuned to the signal from The Wrekin transmitter even though your aerial faces Sutton Coldfield. The simplest and most generic solution I can advance for that is to run the auto-tune search with the aerial unplugged and then when it gets to 25% plug in the aerial. That way the aerial will be unplugged when it is scanning the frequencies used by The Wrekin and plugged in for Sutton Coldfield frequencies.

2. Your signal strength is too high. See this page for more information and how it might be rectified:

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

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Dave Lindsay's 5,724 posts GB
Monday, 19 December 2011
Wednesday, 21 December 2011
Gary Bayliss
8:56 PM

I have 3 pieces of kit capable of receiving freeview HD signals - 1 panasonic TV + blu-ray recorder fed by one aerial and another panasonic tv fed by a separate aerial with a masthead amplifier.
Until about August/September, I received perfect HD signals on all 3 devices from the Crystal Palace transmitter (channel 31 I believe) but suddendly stopped receiving any HD channel after this time on any device.
After weeks/months of re-tuning, I am at a loss as to why this service has ceased. I can't believe it is due to the kit (even though it's all panasonic) as this would be stretching coincidence too far.
Re-tuning efforts have achieved receipt of HD channels (from the amplified aerial) from the Sandy transmitter but these break up far too regularly to be considered watchable.
Can anyone explain this loss of HD channels from Crystal Palace and know whether previous service will be resumed anytime soon?
All/any constructive advice will be appreciated...thanks

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Gary Bayliss's 1 post GB
Thursday, 22 December 2011

7:41 AM

Gary Bayliss: The most likely explanation, and something which has caused problems for many people living North of London, is because at the end of August Sandy's SDN transmitter started to use the same channel number (Ch31) as Crystal Palaces low powered HD service, this being on a temporary basis until next April when it (Crystal Palace) changes over to high power operation on Ch30 as well as Sandy's SDN moving to Ch51.

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jb38's 7,179 posts GB
11:13 AM

We have just moved in a new house and plugged in our TV panasonic with inbuilt freeview. We can only receive the BBC channels (BBC1,2,3,4, news CBBC and CBBies) but nothingelse. Any idea what the problem might be?
Thank you if you can help

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Geraldine's 1 post GB
11:16 AM

We have just moved in a new house and plugged in the TV (panasonic with in built freeview) but we can only receive the BBC channels, all of the BBC channels but nothing else. Any ideas what the problem might be?

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Geraldine's 1 post GB

12:44 PM

Geraldine: I would carry out a factory re-set on your Panasonic then let it auto-tune, as you are indicated are being able to have good reception across the board from Oxford, although I do have certain reservations about reception of anything other than from the main BBC / ITV transmitters is concerned as many have problems with these, but one never knows!

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jb38's 7,179 posts GB
Saturday, 24 December 2011
12:58 AM

Dave Lindsay: Thanks for your reply.

I have tried both autotune with no aerial at 25% through scanning/tunning as well as using an attenuator. I
am still getting the blocky pictures and when I turn the attenuator to a lower value, the picture gets blocky more frequently.

Do you think an outside aerial would make things better ?

Any feedback will be most appreciated. Thank you in anticipation.

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kc's 2 posts GB

11:55 AM

kc: Unless a person is residing in a basement flat with an aerial in the same room as them, or alternatively is located behind a large hill that separates them from the transmitter, then an outside aerial should not be necessary when the massively powerful Sutton Coldfield station is only 7/10 miles away. (p/code indicating 7)

If you have access to a set top aerial purely for a test try that, as "if" you are receiving an overly powerful signal then you might get a reasonable picture using that, which if you do is inclined to indicate that the signal you are receiving is on the verges of being too strong.

If you haven't access to a set top aerial, try a short piece of wire (2ft/600mm) pushed into the inner sleeve in the aerial socket.

I see you refer to an attenuator, what range (in dB) is printed on it?

You could also try a re-scan with either of the aforementioned being used.

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jb38's 7,179 posts GB
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