From time to time you may experience issues with your TV reception, like a blocky/pixelated picture or missing channels. In a lot of cases these will be temporary problems or have a simple remedy. On some occasions you may need some outside help: we recommend that maintenance on rooftop aerials is carried out by professionals. But most problems can be easily fixed. Here are a few tips to help you improve your reception:
Aerials and cables
Make sure your aerial is secure and in good condition. You should also check your external cabling and plugs/sockets along with any cables connecting your TV and recorder.
Bad reception can occur if your external aerial is out of position and no longer pointing directly at the correct transmitter. Over a period of time, bad weather can damage your aerial.
Find out more about water damage>
Amplifiers and splitters
If you bought an aerial amplifier before switchover because of a weak signal or reception problems, there’s a good chance you don’t need it anymore. Aerial amplifiers and splitters are a common cause of reception difficulty and can actually overload equipment. Try removing and see if this improves the situation.
Transmitters and signal overlaps
Depending on where you live, you may be able to receive signals from more than one TV transmitter. For example, you might get the wrong regional news. This may come about because the equipment automatically tunes to a weaker rather than stronger signal. For better reception, Digital UK has information on how to manually retune your TV or recorder to the correct transmitter for your address.
In some cases, aerials aren’t aligned to the best transmitter. Your aerial might be pointed at a large main transmitter but receive a much better signal from a smaller one that’s local. Get in touch with a local aerial installer to redirect your aerial and improve reception.
Some weather conditions like high pressure, which is associated with fine weather (and morning fog) can affect your reception. However, interference caused by atmospheric conditions is temporary and should clear once the weather changes.
Occasionally, routine engineering work is required on transmitters in order to improve terrestrial TV services. While every effort is made to minimise the impact on viewers, this can cause temporary disruption to reception. Check to see if there is planned engineering at your local transmitter.
Some home appliances can disrupt your reception. This happens because of power fluctuations at the mains. Try switching off other devices around the home and see if this fixes the problem. Common culprits include fridges, washing machines and tumble dryers, fluorescent lighting systems, lawnmowers, central heating systems and water pumps.
To prevent interference, fit a mains filter to your TV equipment and keep your aerial and cables away from other electrical cables. Try moving devices like mobiles, cordless phones and baby monitors away from your TV.
Local external interference
Traffic, road works and radios used by the police or taxis can interfere with your reception. Prevent this by fitting a filter to your aerial and ensuring all cables are in good condition.
Trees, tall buildings and even hills can block signals from your transmitter to your home. If this occurs, get in touch with a local aerial installer – who should be able to advise on possible solutions, like redirecting your aerial to an alternative transmitter.
4G mobile broadband services operating in the 800MHz band can interfere with TV signals in some areas. Usually this can be resolved by fitting a simple filter between your aerial cable and your TV. A company called at800 has been established by mobile phone operators to help resolve these reception issues for viewers.
My reception is fine but I’m missing channels
Channels on Freeview can change from time to time – some may be removed, others added and channel numbers can change. Try retuning your TV equipment once in a while to make sure you have the latest channel line-up for your area.
If you need more advice about Freeview reception and coverage try calling the Freeview Advice Line on 03456 505050.
Advice on TV interference is available from the Radio and Television Investigation Service, which is managed by the BBC.
Almost certainly. 98.5% of the UK population can receive Freeview.
Find out if you’re in that 98.5% with our coverage checker.
The Freeview coverage checker gives a good indication of whether you’ll be able to receive Freeview. However, do bear in mind that it is a prediction based on an area 100 square metres around your address. There might be some homes in that area which cannot receive Freeview, because of the exact location of the property and other elements of your local geography, such as tall buildings, trees or hills. You may want to borrow a digital box or TV from a friend or neighbour to confirm whether you can get reception at your address.
When you buy a set top box or other equipment, we recommend that you make sure that you can get a refund from your retailer if these local factors prevent you from receiving Freeview.
If you don’t already have an aerial then you may need to contact an aerial installer to get a rooftop aerial which is the best longterm solution.
In the short term, if you’re thinking of trying the service with a set top aerial, you might want to take a look at this review of indoor aerials .
Other Aerials and reception FAQs
Get in touch with either the Confederation of Aerial Industries (CAI) or Get Me Digital who can give you details of one or more members who operate in your area and guarantee their work:
Find an approved CAI installer at Get Me Viewing
Find a digital professional at getmedigital.com
A local installer will understand the circumstances and local geography in your area and suggest the best option for you.
Other Living with Freeview FAQs
Check the predicted coverage for your area using our coverage checker. If it shows you have good coverage or have previously had good reception, most problems can be easily resolved by doing the following:
1. Check for temporary transmitter faults or planned maintenance
Check the Digital UK website for details of planned engineering works that may be affecting your reception
You can also check the BBC website to find out if faults or maintenance are affecting BBC transmissions
If your neighbours are also having problems, this is a good indication that a transmitter fault may be to blame.
2. Retune your digital box and check that your cables and connections are not faulty
If there is no known transmitter fault or engineering work, then try unplugging your digital box or TV and then retuning it once the the connection to the power has been restored.
Take a good look at your cables. Are they worn or damaged? Look for worn parts or bent pins on the SCART connections. You may also want to contact the manufacturer of your equipment to make sure that it is not faulty.
3. Find out if there is a problem with your aerial
If you are still having problems, then you may find that your aerial has been damaged or has become mis-aligned.
This video explains more about aerials and reception
Check the predicted coverage for your area using our coverage checker. Some addresses may not receive all the Freeview channels because of local geographical factors. If you have previously had good coverage, and you have now lost some of your channels, try retuning your digital box or TV to reload channels.
If channels are still missing you may need to clear the memory of your digital box before retuning. Make sure it is turned off and unplug the aerial from your digital box or TV. Turn on the equipment again and retune without the aerial; your box or TV won’t find any channels. Turn off the equipment again and plug the aerial back in. After restoring the power, do a full retune using the ‘first time installation’ option (sometimes called ‘default’ or ‘factory settings). You should find your channels return. If you are not certain about how to do a full retune of your equipment, check your manual for instructions.
Digital UK website holds retuning instructions for many manufacturer’s boxes and TVs.
If you are still having problems, you may need to check your aerial. Get in touch with either the Confederation of Aerial Industries (CAI) or Get Me Digital who can give you details of one or more members who operate in your area and guarantee their work:
Aerials and reception explained – watch the video
How do I retune my digital box or TV?
How does the coverage checker work?
There are a variety of causes for picture breakup (‘blocky’ picture) on Freeview. We’ve listed them below from most to least likely, to help you identify the issue quickly and effectively.
The TV picture freezing or breaking up in this way is most commonly caused by a weak signal. This might be because there is limited or intermittent coverage at your address, or your cable connections may be faulty (see below). If you have good coverage or have previously had good reception, try retuning your digital box or TV to reload channels.
Certain weather conditions can also affect the signal, especially high pressure and snow.
Equipment & Set-Up
Check the condition of cabling and connections. Damaged or loose aerial plugs can cause problems. Try disconnecting aerial amplifiers or splitters which can sometimes lead to equipment getting overloaded or too little signal.
If your TV set is close to other electronic devices (such as refrigerators and boilers), they can cause interference.
If you are still having problems, contact either the Confederation of Aerial Industries (CAI) or Get Me Digital who can give you details of one or more members who operate in your area and guarantee their work:
Aerials and reception explained – watch the video
How do I retune my digital box or TV?
You may be getting TV signals from two or more regional transmitters at your address. It may be that your preferred services are appearing lower down the list of channels than you expect, in the 800s. If your box or TV has a ‘favourites’ function, you can save these channels in this so that you can find them easily.
Alternatively you can manually retune your box or TV to select your preferred regional service. If this does not help, contact the manufacturer of your equipment for support.