Reception, picture and channels troubleshooting guide

If you're having problems with reception, picture or channels when watching Freeview then look no further than our step-by-step troubleshooting guide, these are the steps that we would talk you through if you called one of our advisors at the Freeview advice line.

Step 1: Check what channels you should be getting

Check the predicted coverage in your area through our Freeview Checker. From there you'll also be able to see any planned maintenance, transmitter faults or live issues that could be affecting your area.

Just enter your postcode and house name or number to find all channels available via an aerial at your address. If there's no information on there about faults or engineering work, return to this page and follow step 2...

Step 2: Retuning your device

When something's been updated, most Freeview devices will ask you to retune (rescan) for any channel changes. With most devices you'll just have to press 'retune' when prompted. But if your TV doesn't prompt you to do this, you may need to manually start the automatic retune or do a full manual retune. The instructions for both are below. Alternatively, watch our helpful retune videos.

Automatic retune: These may vary slightly depending on which device you have, but they usually include the following simple steps:

  1. Press menu on your box or TV remote control
  2. Select ‘set-up’, ‘installation’, ‘update’ or a similar option. If you’re asked for a password, the default code is ‘1234’ or ‘0000’.
  3. Select ‘first-time installation’ (sometimes called ‘factory reset’, ‘full retune’ or ‘default settings’).
  4. Press ‘OK’ if your equipment asks if it's OK to delete existing channels and then your retune should start automatically. If you’re prompted to, save the channels that are found.

Manual retune: If you've already run through the automatic retune options and it still isn't sorted, you can manually search by channel frequencies.

As a first step, check to see if your desired channels are appearing further down the list in the TV Guide (usually the 800s).  If they are, make them easier to find by saving them to your ‘favourites’ list.

If you can't find the channels in the 800 range, enter your postcode into our Freeview Checker to find a list of channels available at your address. Once you have these details, please follow the below steps:

  1. Using your remote control, press the 'menu' button.
  2. Select the 'set up' or 'installation' option. If you see picture icons, select the tool box, satellite dish or spanner.
  3. Select 'manual retune' or 'manual search'.
  4. If you're prompted for a code, try 0000 or 1234.
  5. When your device asks for a channel number (frequency), type in the number provided in the detailed view of the Freeview checker relating to that channel.
  6. Repeat steps 1-5 using the different numbers next to each group (a group is a bundle of TV services), to complete the manual retune.
  7. Then press 'menu' or 'exit' to finish.

These instructions should work for most Freeview TVs or boxes, but they differ, and you may have to speak to your manufacturer or the retailer you bought your device from for help.

For more help, you can also watch our retuning videos or read our other retuning FAQs.

Step 3: What to check after retuning

You might find that your channel favourites and scheduled recordings are also deleted after retuning, so you'll need to check and reset them. But any recordings you've made should still be there.

However, if your set top box or TV isn’t working correctly, you may sometimes need to clear its memory completely, or restart it. If you have any problems, check the instruction manual, or get in touch with the manufacturer. 

Step 4: Check your equipment and cables

If you have followed the retune process and it still hasn't resolved the problem, try unplugging your set-top box or TV and then retuning it.

  • Freeview TV: Your Freeview TV should come with a power lead and a remote control with batteries. Make sure the TV is plugged in and fit the batteries to the remote. Plug in the aerial and turn the TV on. If you have a smart TV then it you will ask for your wifi network and password, so have these ready.
  • Set-top box: If you have one, you should have the following items: a power lead, a remote control with batteries and HDMI leads.
  • Cables: Take a good look. Are they worn or damaged? Look for worn parts or bent pins on the connections.
  • Internet: Make sure any internet cables are securely plugged in or if using Wi-Fi that your TV/Box is connected to your network

Step 5: Check for 4G interference

Sometimes 4G mobile broadband services can interfere with TV signals in some areas. A company called DMSL has been established by mobile phone operators to help resolve these reception issues for Freeview users.

You can use its tool to check if there's 4G interference in your area – if there is it can usually be resolved by fitting a 4G filter between your aerial cable and your TV. You can get a free one from DMSL – see its 4G filters guide for more information, or call its support team on 0808 131 3800.

Step 6: Check your aerial

Aerial lead: Make sure it's undamaged and connected to the aerial point in your living room. The lead must be securely plugged into the socket in the back of your Freeview TV, set-top box, or recorder (marked ‘RF in’, ‘Antenna’, ‘Aerial’ or ‘Ant in’). 

As a rule, we recommend removing any unnecessary aerial amplifiers or splitters, which can lead to equipment being overloaded or receiving too little signal.

External aerial: It’s likely that your existing aerial will work, as long as it’s not out of position or damaged by the weather.  Check that it's pointing in the same direction as others nearby.

If you live somewhere which shares an aerial, talk to your neighbours to see if they use Freeview and what the reception is like. If they get good reception it’s likely that you will too. If they’re not seeing a perfect picture, then get the communal aerial checked. Ask your landlord, management company, housing association or council.

Also get in touch with them if you don’t quite know what kind of aerial the building has got, or you suspect it might not have an aerial at all.

If you need more advice, we recommend you get in touch with a qualified aerial installer. They will understand the circumstances and local geography in your area and suggest the best option for you. Visit the following websites to find one local to you:

Remember, it's always a good idea to get more than one quote.

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