Guide to Freeview

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Freeview is the terrestrial TV service for the UK, and is delivered via an aerial to either the TV’s built in tuner, or to a set top box.

Channel Availability

Freeview channels have different levels of availability, and the Freeview Multiplex Guide explains how channels are carried, and where the are available.

Some channels are available in HD, requiring newer DVB-T2 equipment. This equipment is identified by Freeview HD or Freeview Play branding. Irish Soarview equipment is also DVB-T2 compatible, and should work with the Freeview HD service.


Internal or external aerials can be used, although most equipment manufacturers recommend the use of external, usually roof top aerials. External aerials are more likely to achieve a direct line of sight to the transmitter, meaning better signal, and are less likely to be impacted by building structures.

On a personal note, I have achieved some success with internal aerials. Observations suggest flat panel aerials tend to work best, usually with a built in booster. More conventional telescopic aerials also can work, but are much harder to get correctly positioned.

As tested, the flat panel aerial was a One for All at around £45, with the telescopic a Polaroid costing around £15 from Asda. A telescopic One for All model around £30 achieved no results and was duly returned, suggesting more expensive does not mean better results.

In weak signal areas of roof top aerial will be required.

How to Access Freeview

In simple terms, two things are required to access Freeview, a compatible TV and a correctly positioned aerial. The TV can either have a built in Freeview tuner, or be connected to a Freeview set top box. There is no requirement for a subscription, and after the initial upfront cost of the equipment, the service is free to access.

Please consult the instruction manuals supplied with your equipment for instructions on how to set up your equipment. Although the process is similar, the exact method varies from device to device. In any case, you will need to run a channel scan on initial setup, which will search for and store channels available in your area.