Technical FAQs

Introduction to Freeview transmitters

To get Freeview you need an aerial in good condition and pointing in the right direction towards a transmitter that sends out the TV signals in your area.   Across the UK is a network of transmitters, usually place strategically on hills to send out TV broadcasts across a wide area.    Transmitters provide the signals picked up by your aerial that your Freeview TV or recorder decodes so you can watch the TV channels.

Areas with large populations (major cities and towns) are served by large transmitters that cover most of the population – 90% of the UK population is covered by main transmitters.  Smaller relay transmitters fill in the gaps caused by local geography – hills, valleys or remote locations – but only provide the most popular channels.

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, it is possible for an aerial to pick up signals from more than one transmitter when it’s positioned in an area where the coverage of two or more transmitters overlaps.

In this case, you may be receiving the wrong regional channels. The correct ones may appear lower down the TV guide, often in the channel number 800 onward.  The problem can sometimes be rectified by a manual retune.

If channels are missing, (and you have already retuned, or you’ve never had them) it may be due to them not being available on the transmitter your aerial is receiving signal from.  In this instance, you may wish to try and manually retune to select an alternative transmitter (if available).

When it comes to replacing or adjusting the aerial itself, we recommend you always use a qualified aerial installer who will have experience working at heights and information on transmitters in your area.

In general the closer you are to the transmitter, the stronger your signal. If you live very close to the transmitter but find you are getting a blocky/broken picture, it may be that you are getting too much signal, which can cause equipment to become overloaded. This may be because you have a signal booster fitted to your aerial, and we recommend you get a professional installer to deactivate this for you.

Why am I receiving the wrong BBC or ITV regional programmes?

If you are receiving the wrong BBC or ITV regional programmes, it may be because you are getting TV signals from two or more regional transmitters at your address.

In this situation, it’s possible 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.

How do I manually retune my Digital TV equipment?

If you are comfortable with technical information and your basic retune hasn’t worked, you can use this manual retune guide to address the following problems:

  • If your Freeview TV or box picks up a different regional (BBC or ITV) services to the the ones you would expect to receive. (e.g. BBC England instead of BBC Scotland or BBC East Midlands instead of BBC Anglia).
  • If you are missing some channels.
  • Or if your equipment has stopped working.

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

Digital UK currently offers a comprehensive guide to manually retuning your Freeview equipment:

Digital UK guide to manual retuning.

If you find the manual re-tune is too difficult, contact a local electrical retailer or installer:

Find an Installer

Find a digital professional at Get Me Digital. A local installer will understand the circumstances and local geography of your area and suggest the best option for you.

Note: some early products do not offer a manual retune (or manual search) facility – please check your instruction book for more detailed information.

Do I need to change transmitter?

In some areas it may be possible to receive a TV signal from more than one transmitter. Usually, you won’t need to change transmitter as your TV will tune to the one with the strongest signal.

If you have lost your regular channels or are not getting the regional TV service you expected, firstly, we recommend you retune your box.   Channels on Freeview can change from time to time – new channels are frequently added, a few removed and channel numbers can change.  This may restore the line-up you expect.

However, sometimes, if you are having problems with incorrect regional services or missing channels, you may want to try changing transmitter. You can check which transmitters serve your area, predicted signal strength, and the channels available on them by using the detailed view on the  Digital UK coverage checker.

The next step is to try a manual retune to input directly the information from the transmitter you prefer to use   If this doesn’t work, your aerial may need to be realigned, or possibly replaced, by an accredited professional form one of these organisations:

Find an Installer
Find a digital professional at Get Me Digital.

For a manual retune: how do I convert UHF channel numbers to frequency (MHz)?

When products are manually retuned, most require a UHF channel number [link] to be entered [(eg: 21-68)], but some may require the frequency in MHz – similar to the frequency required for a radio station.

Steps:

1) Enter your postcode into the widget on the right hand side of this page to find out which UHF channel numbers you will need (based on your most likely transmitter.

Digital UK guide to manual retuning

2) Use the converter table  on this page to convert your UHF numbers to MHz.

Convert channel number to frequency

Will 4G phone signals interfere with my TV signal?

Mobile phone operators continue to expand fourth-generation (4G) coverage to provide customers with high speed wireless broadband. Where these services are broadcast on certain airwaves (the 800MHz band), they may interfere with Freeview reception*. A new company, at800, has been set up by the mobile operators to provide filters and other assistance to households where TV reception may be affected.

*Existing 4G services from EE do not affect Freeview services as these operate in a different band.