What is a transmitter and a relay?

TV transmitters send digital TV signals through the air which are received by an aerial, often on a rooftop or in your loft, which is connected to the TV.

Most cities and most towns across the UK are served by large 'main' transmitters. These are large structures which send TV signals to many millions of households. Areas that can’t be covered by a main transmitter (for example where a hill blocks the signal) are normally served by smaller ‘relay’ transmitters.

Main transmitters broadcast a larger number of channels compared to relay transmitters. All transmitters carry the most popular channels.

How can I get Freeview?

To get Freeview, you need an aerial in good condition, pointing in the right direction towards a transmitter. You can find out where your nearest transmitter is by putting your postcode in our Detailed transmitter checker.

In nearly all cases, when you tune your TV or recorder, your aerial will pick up signals from only one transmitter with the correct channels and appropriate regional variations. However, there may sometimes be issues.

Below are the most common issues and how to deal with them.

If you're near more than one transmitter

Sometimes the coverage of two or more transmitters can overlap, which means your aerial might pick up multiple signals. If this is the case, you may be getting the wrong regional channels.

The correct ones may appear lower down the TV guide, often from channel number 800. You can usually solve this problem by doing a manual retune.

If channels are missing and you have already retuned, it could be that they're not available on the transmitter your aerial's getting signal from.

In this instance, you could try manually retuning to select an alternative transmitter (if one's available). Our Detailed transmitter checker will tell you where your nearest ones are.

If you're having problems with your aerial

First, take a look at our Reception, picture and channels troubleshooting guide for tips and guidance.

If you think need to replace or adjust the aerial itself, we recommend you always use a qualified aerial installer. They will have experience working at heights and information on transmitters in your area.

Visit these websites to find an aerial installer local to you:

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

If your picture keeps breaking

First, read our Reception, pictures and channels troubleshooting guide to see if that helps.

In general, the closer you are to the transmitter, the stronger your signal. But if you live very close to the transmitter and find you're getting a blocky/broken picture, you may be getting too much signal, which can cause equipment to become overloaded.

This could be because you have a signal booster fitted to your aerial – we'd recommend you get a professional installer to take a look and deactivate this for you (remember to get a few quotes for this).

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