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Freeview Frequently Asked Questions

This page contains answers to questions about the Freeview free-to-view TV service. If your question isn’t answered here, please ask in our forum, and we’ll try to help.

 

Topics on this page include:

We also have a Freeview forum for questions and discussion of problem

 

Before you buy

How do I get Freeview?
  1. Coverage – To receive Freeview, you must be in a Freeview coverage area. To check this, enter your postcode at digitaluk.co.uk/postcodechecker or on the Freeview site. See our “Freeview Coverage” page for guidance.
  2. Box – If you are in coverage, you’ll need to get a free-to-air set-top box. Boxes cost from upwards of £20 and can be bought from high-street stores such as Currys. Shopping online for a set-top box is often the best route, as there are some good bargains to be had.
  3. Connect – Plug your new Freeview set-top box to your existing TV aerial. Connect another lead to your TV set’s SCART socket, and you should be ready to go. Note that in some cases, your TV aerial may not be suitable and may need upgrading.
  4. Setup – Follow the instructions supplied with the set-top box, and scan for available Freeview channels.

We recommendWe recommend: YouView, for a Freeview recorder plus on-demand TV shows

Will I be able to receive Freeview? We receive quite a few emails on this one, but there’s no guaranteed answer to this. First off, check that you are in a Freeview coverage area via the postcode checker at www.digitaluk.co.uk/postcodechecker.

Even if you are in an area reported as having good signal, local obstructions, or the quality of your TV aerial may make a difference to your reception. You can also use the clickable map at Wolfbane site to get information on your nearest transmitter, or enter your postcode in Wolfbane’s coverage predictor to see how far away from the transmitter you are, and what sort of aerial is advised.

It’s fairly safe to assume that if you get a fairly strong signal on the main 5 channels from the same transmitter as a transmitter that offers a digital TV signal, receiving Freeview shouldn’t be a problem in most cases. However, the only true way to find out 100% is to either borrow a friend’s Freeview box to try it out, or contact a TV aerial company and ask them to perform a signal test using your aerial. As below, aerial upgrades and boosters can help to improve a weak signal if needed.

Which box to buy? Set-top boxes can be purchased for a one-off fee of between £20 and £200, depending on the features and styling you’re looking for. Here are a few things to consider when buying a Freeview box:

  • Price: Prices start from around £20 – no subscription, contracts or ongoing costs (although you still have to have a UK TV licence).
  • Connectivity: All boxes have a single SCART socket as standard, for connection either to a TV or video. You may want to consider improving your options with a second SCART socket that allows connection to both a TV and video recorder. If connecting to a TV or video that doesn’t have a SCART socket, you need to look for a box that has a modulated output (that can transmit TV on a special channel that you can tune your TV/VHS into).
  • Features: Starting with basic boxes that support interactive services and subtitles, to boxes with electronic programme guides, built-in games and programme timers, to top-of-the-range boxes with CD and DVD players, DVD recorders, and hard-disk recorders.
  • Card slot: In addition to the free channels, you may want a box that’s compatible with future subscription services.

If you’re looking to buy a Freeview receiver, see our set-top box page for the full range of UK boxes. You can also browse our forum to see user’s comments on various boxes.

Freeview on an indoor aerial? If you get a strong enough TV signal where you live, receiving Freeview on an internal indoor aerial is perfectly possible, but for better results, an external aerial pointing in the direction of your local Digital TV transmitter is a much better bet. Indoor aerials are less able to pull in signals, and more susceptible to interference from domestic equipment (computers, washing machines, etc). It’s often hit and miss with indoor aerials, and as the transmitters for digital TV operate on a lower power than normal analogue TV transmissions (so as not to interfere with analogue), you’re less likely to get a good digital TV signal from an indoor aerial. As a general rule of thumb, if you get a poor analogue TV signal from an indoor aerial, you don’t stand much of a chance with digital. Entering your postcode into Wolfbane’s coverage predictor gives you an aerial recommendation that can help to give an idea of the effectiveness of an indoor aerial.

Indoor Aerial from Maplin A proper external aerial, or a even a loft aerial, is your best bet for good reception, but if your only option is an internal portable aerial, go for a good quality indoor aerial. Look for a powered one , and aim it at the appropriate transmitter. Try to keep it close to a window, with as few walls and as little metal as possible between the aerial and the transmitter – keeping the aerial high, away from other electrical equipment, and close to a window, can all help too.

Try Maplin Electronics or Argos for a range of indoor aerials – We’ve had recommendations that Maplin’s High Gain Indoor Digital Aerial with Amplifier (Cat: A95GT) performs well. There’s also the ‘Total Control Freeview Indoor Aerial‘ available from Argos (Cat: 534/4857) which claims to be designed for Freeview, but we’ve no feedback on how well it performs.

If you have a roof aerial, but not in the required room, consider running a cabled aerial extension. Aerial extension kits are easy to do, and are available for a low price at Maplin Electronics.

Not in a Freeview area? You can check information on coverage in your area by using the Digital UK postcode checker.

In the UK, OfCom is the Government department responsible for UK digital TV. Their website states: “Eighty of the UK’s major transmitting sites currently carry digital terrestrial television (DTT) signals. Government, in consultation with the digital broadcasters, will decide on further extensions to DTT.”

If you’re not in a digital TV coverage area yet, it’s a case of waiting until your transmitter is upgraded, or contacting OfCom, to urge them to install a new transmitter to serve your area. You can find information on UK TV transmitters at the Mb21 site. If you want to find out when you may receive digital TV, you could try the OfCom website, or contact the company that maintains your local transmitter (probably Arqiva), or the TV company responsible for your region.

Alternatives to Freeview include Sky TV, cable TV or TalkTalk TV. See our Digital TV Advice page for details.

Freeview on a portable? Freeview will work on a portable TV set. You can connect a Freeview set-top box to a portable TV. Most commonly, you’ll want to connect using a SCART socket – if your portable doesn’t have a SCART socket, you will need a box with a modulated output.

If you only have an indoor aerial, you ought to read our information on Freeview with an indoor aerial

Freeview on satellite? Freeview refers to the free-to-view TV service that’s received via a TV aerial. For information on the free channels available via a digital satellite Sky box, see our Free Satellite TV page.
Freeview via cable? If you get your TV from cable provider Virgin Media, you won’t be able to watch Freeview on a Freeview set-top box using your cable TV aerial wiring – this is because cable companies don’t send digital terrestrial TV signals down their cable system. To get Freeview, you need to connect a Freeview box (or digital TV set) to a standard TV aerial that’s pointing at a digital TV transmitter.
Can I video Freeview? Yes – Provided that you’ve connected Freeview via your video recorder, you can tape Freeview channels. Note that almost all Freeview boxes only have one tuner, so you can’t record one digital channel while watching another.

 

For help with getting started, see our New to Freeview page.

General questions

Programme listings on Freeview Freeview offers a “now-and-next” service for all set-top boxes, and many boxes also support a 7-day electronic programme guide (or EPG).

Get DigiGuideIf you’re looking for an alternative to the EPG, or to your TV listings magazine, there are a few alternatives. Our favourite is DigiGuide, a powerful TV listings program for your PC, mobile phone or pocket computer. Listings are uploaded over the Internet. The advantages are: searchable, cheap, greater listings, configurable. For details of this and other listing guides, see our dedicated TV Listings Guides section.

Can I get subscription channels on Freeview? Freeview is a free-to-view service from the BBC – there’s no subscription and the standard Freeview channels are free to watch without subscription.

If you happen to have a Freeview set-top box or digital TV with a card slot, you may be wondering whether you can subscribe to any extra channels…

  • ESPN – With a subscription card and a suitable card slot, your Freeview box or Freeview TV may be able to get the ESPN sports channel. More on getting ESPN via Freeview.
  • Sky Sports – With a suitable set-top box and subscription card, you can get the Sky Sports 1 and Sky Sports 2 channels. More on getting Sky Sports via Freeview.

Otherwise, there’s nothing else on offer. If you want more channels on Freeview, you could consider getting BT Vision (Freeview plus content over Broadband, available to BT Broadband users) or Top UP TV Anytime (extra content downloaded overnight), otherwise there’s a wider selection on Sky Digital and Virgin Media cable.

Channels We’re often asked about Freeview channels… Which channels are offered? What channels are coming soon? Why Freeview doesn’t carry some channels.. Here are some common answers:

Channel lineup

New channels

Channels not on Freeview

  • There are quite a lot of channels not on the Freeview platform. Where a TV channel doesn’t appear on the Freeview platform, this is likely to be for one of two reasons: Either the channel is a ‘subscription channel’ (the broadcaster wants to make money from your subscription), or there is not enough space on the Freeview system – there’s a technical limit, and space is at a premium.
  • To receive a channel that’s not on Freeview, consider signing to a service that carries the channel you’re after. Options include Sky satellite or Virgin Media cable. Services like BT Vision and TopUp TV offer programming from a number of non-Freeview channels.
  • If you want to know why a channel isn’t on Freeview – you can always contact the broadcaster and ask them
Does Freeview support subtitles? Freeview subtitles on the GX210Yes. Where a TV programme has subtitles provided by the broadcaster, these are transmitted over Freeview.

Subtitles are transmitted for the TV channels that are also available on analogue TV (i.e. BBC1, BBC2, ITV1, Channel 4 and five), as well as for the extra channels that are available on the digital platform.

Most (if not all) of the set-top boxes and digital TV sets for Freeview support subtitles for deaf or hard of hearing viewers. Pictured here is a screenshot of a Freeview channel’s subtitles displayed on the BT iPlayer.

Many Freeview boxes have a dedicated ‘Subtitles’ button on the remote control – if not, subtitling is something that can be switched on via the on-screen menu. Consult your set-top box or digital TV set’s manual for details of how to enable subtitles.

Surround Sound on Freeview? Freeview transmits audio using standard PCM stereo (Pulse Code Modulation), and the audio is compressed using MPEG Layer II encoding.

Some of the TV content transmitted over Freeview (commonly movies) has been encoded with the analogue Dolby Pro-logic Surround Sound format. As Dolby Pro-logic is carried over standard two-channel stereo, then this is passed over Freeview. An audio decoder connected to a Freeview box’s stereo output should be able to extract Dolby Pro-logic signals, and provide this form of analogue surround sound.

Digital Surround Sound, such as Dolby Digital (Ac3) 5.1 or DTS 5.1 is not currently being transmitted over DTT (Freeview) in the UK.

If you’re looking for Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound from your TV, consider getting a Sky+ box or Sky+HD Box.

 

Audio captioning? As another service for the visually-impaired, an audio captioning service is supported by a number of programmes- as far as we know, the only box that supports this is a custom version of the NetGem iPlayer – This version comes with the software installed to allow you to listen to the audio description track that describes action in certain programmes.
Freeview on Sky? A common question we see is “Can I get Freeview on Sky?”.

“Freeview” is the name for the digital TV service that can be received using a standard TV aerial on special Freeview receivers. Freeview uses a different technology to satellite TV, and the “Freeview” service therefore can’t be received via a satellite dish or Sky box.

However, using a satellite dish, you can still get free digital TV – via Freesat (from the BBC), or with Sky’s Freesat service. For details of subscription-free satellite TV, see our Free Satellite TV page.

For details of Sky in general, see our satellite TV page, or go to www.sky.com

What about TV regions? For the particular part of the UK in which you live, BBC and ITV stations broadcast a selection of regional programmes (such as local news). With Sky TV, all of the UK regions are transmitted, and the postcode of your Sky Card decides which region you receive. Sky have to transmit all regions (and have the bandwidth to do this), but Freeview gets its signal from a local TV transmitter, which transmits the required regional channel. As long as your aerial is pointing at the appropriate local transmitter, you’ll get the right regional programmes. Also, Freeview doesn’t have free channel space to transmit programmes for other regions.

If you wanted to receive regional programmes from a non-local transmitter, theoretically you could point a powerful enough directional aerial at the different region’s transmitter, and provided that there’s no other closer channels that could interfere with reception, then you could receive the other region’s signal. If in doubt, contact a local aerial installation firm for advice.

Freeview overseas? Freeview is transmitted over UHF via transmitters based in the UK. Transmissions are intended for the UK only, and are controlled such that they don’t interfere with TV services of other countries. This means that you’re very unlikely to get reception of Freeview outside of the UK.

If you’re looking to get UK TV outside of the UK, see our Overseas FAQ

What is a digital TV? When referring to a ‘Digital TV’, most commonly, you’d be referring to an IDTV set (Integrated Digital TV). These have built-in Freeview receivers, so are able to receive Freeview channels without the need to plug in a separate set-top box. To get an idea on what an IDTV set has to offer, try looking on the Argos site, and using the search word IDTV.
Freeview listings Looking for a guide that lists all of the programmes available on Freeview? Consider DigiGuide – a downloadable PC application that updates over the Internet with the latest schedule listings. A web version is also available. Click here to download the trial, or see our TellyGuides TV Listings reviews for more.
Can I still use analogue? No. The analgue TV system was phased out in the UK between 2007 and 2012, with the final analogue service being switched off in 2012.
Why is there a time lag on Freeview? One of the slightly annoying things you may notice about digital TV, is that there’s a slight time-lag with digital services – sometimes up to a couple of seconds. This can be a pain if you are watching a digital service with an analogue service in another room.

For details on the cause, see our Digital Time lag page.

Freeview HDT We now have four channels of HD available subscription-free on Freeview. See our Freeview HD page for more details.

 

Reception problems

Having problems receiving Freeview, looking for help at reducing picture breakup, or missing some of the TV and radio channels? This section may help…

No channels / No signal First – prove that you’ve connected the box to your TV correctly – A Freeview receiver will have some kind of on-screen menu or testcard (try pressing the menu button). If you can’t even see this, then it’s probable that you’ve not even plugged the box in correctly, or tuned to the right TV channel. Get this sorted before worrying about signal strength. See our Connection section.

If you can see the box menu options, but can’t see any of the Freeview TV channels, here are some things to consider:

  • Coverage – Make sure you’re in a coverage area by entering your postcode at the Digital UK site
  • Connections – Double-check your aerial cabling. Any chance your TV aerial (or any splitter /booster) is unplugged? Try connecting straight from the main incoming aerial fly-lead straight into the Freeview box (bypassing any possibly faulty splitters, video recorder leads, etc)
  • Aerial suitable? – Are you using a good quality rooftop terrestrial aerial? Is the lead from the aerial to the box in good condition? Note that there are issues with Freeview on set-top indoor aerials and over aerial cabling provided by a cable TV company
  • Rescan – Try scanning for channels again. If the box hasn’t been used for a while, or you’ve moved house, the channel line-up stored in the box may be out of date. Perform a channel search.
  • Transmitter work – Check to see if there’s transmitter work being done that might affect you.
  • Failing that, it could be that you’re just in a no-signal area. Try putting your postcode into Wolfbane’s coverage predictor – this provides information on your nearest transmitter, and offers some advice on what type of aerial you need – you may need an aerial upgrade, or to get your aerial pointed at a closer digital transmitter. A local aerial installer can help with an aerial upgrade, or you can get all the bits you need to do-it-yourself from Maplin.
  • Signal boosters can help in a small number of cases, but if there’s a weak or noisy signal, the booster won’t have enough signal to boost. These can be of help where you’re feeding your Freeview signal to multiple TV sets around the house though. If you want to try one, they are available from both Argos and Maplin Electronics.

If you’re outside the Freeview area, or can’t get an aerial upgrade, you’ll either have to wait until digital TV comes to your area, or you may want to consider some of the other Digital TV options

More help? See our No Freeview Channels section

Missing Freeview channels? High gain TV aerial

See our Missing Freeview Channels page for help and troubleshooting on this subject.

In summary, reasons why you may not be able to receive all of the channels include:

  • Weak signal
  • Out-of-coverage
  • Interference
  • Weather
  • Problems with your cabling
  • Problems with your aerial
  • Transmitter problems

See our Missing Channels Page for detailed help

 

Interference? See our Freeview Interference page for help and troubleshooting on this subject.

There’s nothing more annoying than interference, pixelation, or the Freeview red dot when watching your favourite show. Most Freeview set-top boxes have some kind of signal strength meter, and this can be quite useful in working out how good your incoming signal is. You may have measurements for both Quality and Strength – the measurement for Quality is very important – if this is high, then you’re likely to get good pictures even if the strength is much lower.
Check your manual for details on the signal quality/strength meter.

Signal

Here are a few bits of advice on improving your signal:

  • Upgrade your aerial – To get good pictures, you need a good quality external (roof) aerial. An aerial upgrade is always a good bet for getting the best signal possible. Seek professional advice and get the best that you can afford. More details can be found elsewhere on this page.
  • Boost your signal – If you’re in an area of weak signal, consider a signal booster. For best results, consider a masthead amplifier. Note that mains-powered boosters are only really effective in some circumstances (to boost quality, not signal) – if the signal is poor, a booster may only amplify the noise.
  • Check splitters – If you’re splitting aerial cables so that you can get TV in other rooms, consider a mains-powered booster with multiple outputs. This can help to overcome loss in the cables.
  • Cabling
    – Sorting out your aerial cabling can make a serious difference – see our cabling advice.

Another annoyance experienced by some users of Freeview, is electrical interference, such as picture breakups when a light is switched on, the washing machine is on, or there’s other electrical activity. Digital Terrestrial TV is prone to electrical interference of this kind, and here are a few hints to help you cure this:

  • Keep your aerial leads and connectors as far away as possible from electrical mains leads
  • Make sure you’re using good quality leads to connect from your aerial to your Freeview box, and from your box to your TV or video. For a new extra pounds, a good quality aerial lead cable with a gold-plated connector from Maplin Electronics may help.
  • Joined cables and lots of unshielded adapters provide a weak link in your setup – make as few joins as possible, and keep joins away from all mains cables.
  • If this doesn’t work, a good quality external roof aerial with good quality unbroken cable straight to your set top box should be the answer.

See our Freeview Interference Page for detailed help

Box interferes with other channels After connecting a Freeview set-top box into your setup for the first time, it’s not uncommon to find that when it’s switched on, you lose one of the channels that you have tuned your TV to receive. A common example of this, is when you switch on your Freeview box, you lose the ability to watch Channel 5 or the video. When this happens, the common cause is that your video or set-top box is broadcasting (known as ‘modulating’) on the same channel number as another channel that’s already in use, and the clash generates interference. This kind of clash was common with video recorders when Channel 5 started… many video recorders had to be retuned so that Channel 5 didn’t interfere with the video recorder signal.

Each ordinary TV signal (BBC1, BBC2, etc) is on a dedicated channel (a UHF channel numbered between 21 and 68), and you need to tune each of your TV preset buttons into each channel you want to watch. Many set-top boxes and video recorders have an aerial output with a ‘modulator’ – this means that it’s capable of generating its own channel (between 21 and 68), so that you can tune your TV into the box’s channel.

If you are experiencing interference because of a clash like this, you’ll need to change the channel number that the box or video broadcasts on. This is normally a setting somewhere in the box’s onscreen menu. You’ll find details of how to do this in the box’s manual (look for RF modulated output channel, or UHF channel – something like that).

Note that this is only a problem if you’re trying to watch via standard TV channels, as opposed to a SCART feed from your set-top box or video (as SCART connections don’t use a TV channel). If your TV / video has a SCART socket, using this may be a much better bet than a modulated feed via an aerial lead, especially in quality terms, and to remove the chance of interference or clashes, you may wish to disable the set-top box’s RF modulator altogether. See our Connection section for help on setting up your set-top box, video and TV using SCART leads.

Other reception problems? See our Reception page for more help on this subject
What is a wideband / high-gain aerial? UK TV is transmitted in a UHF band between 21 and 68. TV aerials are designed to receive certain bands. The bands are:

  • Group A – Channels 21-37
  • Group B – Channels 35-53
  • Group C/D – Channels 48-68
  • Group E – Channels 35-68
  • Group K – Channels 21-48
  • Group W – Channels 21-68

If in doubt, a wideband aerial may be the best option – these are optimised to receive TV channels anywhere in the UK TV band. In areas of weak signal, a wideband aerial may not be as effective as a high-gain aerial designed for the specific band you’re trying to receive (a mast-head amplifier may be needed to help boost the signal). If you’re looking to upgrade aerial, getting a good quality wideband aerial is usually the thing to do, so that if additional services (such as Freeview) appear elsewhere in the band, you’ll be able to get them.

High gain aerials can be used to reduce certain types of problem – including weak signal, interference and ghosting. They do this by getting the most out of the signal. For the best results in weak signal areas, look for a high-gain aerial optimised for the band you want, and ensure that it’s pointed directly at the target transmitter, with sufficient height to clear any obvious obstructions blocking line-of-site to the transmitter.

For information on your nearest transmitter and some aerial advice, try entering your postcode into Wolfbane’s coverage predictor

For a wide range of aerials, connectors and amplifiers, go to www.maplin.co.uk

 

Connection problems

If you’re having problems connecting, try our Freeview Setup advisor

When you first get your Freeview box, the most common connection needed, is to connect the box to the TV using a SCART lead, and turn the box on. Using the TV remote, switch to the channel that’s associated with your SCART socket, and you should see the set-top box’s Startup menu. This section helps with troubleshooting…

My TV can’t see the box The most basic type of connection to try when you first get your Freeview set-top box, is to try a direct connection to the TV, so that you can tune in to Freeview. Here are the steps:

  • Use a SCART lead to connect from the Freeview box to your TV
  • Plug a TV aerial into the Freeview box
  • Power up the Freeview box, and switch on the TV
  • You need to switch the TV to the channel that’s used to view pictures from equipment that’s plugged into the SCART socket. This may be labeled AV / Ext / Line or AUX (depending on the TV)

With luck, you’ll now be able to see the Freeview box’s startup screen, and can follow the onscreen instructions to scan for your new TV channels. If you find your picture’s rolling, or you can’t see the startup screen – make sure everything’s connected properly, that your SCART leads are plugged in correctly, and that your TV is switched to the right SCART channel. Consult your TV’s manual if you’re not sure how to view your Line In / SCART channel.

What’s a co-ax? Co-ax plugA co-ax plug is the kind you’d expect to find on the end of the wire that comes from your TV aerial. For a selection of co-ax leads, converters and extensions, go to the Maplin website.
What’s a SCART? SCART plugPictured to the right is a standard SCART plug. These have 21 pins, and are used to connect video equipment to a TV set or recorder.

If you have a lot of video connectors, you may find that you need a SCART switch box, to handle multiple devices.

For a selection of SCART leads, switch boxes and adapters, take a look at the Maplin website, or see our TV accessories page.

What’s the difference between SCART and Co-ax outputs? A common issue. Set-top boxes can have two different types of output – SCART socket and RF/UHF/Co-ax output, and there are important differences:

  • RF/Co-ax: If connecting to a TV set via a co-ax lead, you need to tune one of your TV presets into the channel that the video or set-top box ‘modulates’ (more details below). With this type of connection, picture quality is worse than SCART, and you won’t get stereo sound. Each ordinary TV signal (BBC1, BBC2, etc) is on a dedicated channel (a number between 21 and 68), and you need to tune your TV preset buttons into each channel. If a set-top box or video has a co-ax output, it’s capable of generating its own channel (between 21 and 68), which you have to tune a TV preset into. Your box/video is doing something known as ‘modulating’ on a channel of its own.
  • SCART lead. If using a SCART cable, you don’t need to do this, as the picture can be seen via the TV’s AV or Line In feed. Using SCART gives you better picture quality, widescreen switching and stereo. Connect from your set-top box into your TV or Video SCART socket, then switch the TV or video to line input (the AV switch – AV2 perhaps?).
How do I connect via a video? One of the most commonly asked questions, and this depends on your setup. It helps to know how many SCART sockets you have on each bit of equipment, and whether your Freeview box has a modulator (see the manual or our receivers page).

Connection help: Try our interactive Connection advisor

Here are a few common configurations. If this doesn’t help, see the rest of this section…

Video has two SCART sockets, TV has one SCART socket (no Freeview modulator)

  • Connect the Freeview box to the video using a SCART lead
  • Connect the video to the TV using a SCART lead
  • Connect the main TV aerial into Freeview box
  • Use standard co-ax lead to go from Freeview out to video in
  • Use standard co-ax lead to go from Video out to TV

This lets record Freeview via the video’s Line in, and watch/record standard TV as normal

Video has one SCART, TV has one SCART (no Freeview modulator)

  • Connect the Freeview box to the video using a SCART lead
  • Connect the main TV aerial into Freeview box
  • Use standard co-ax lead to go from Freeview out to video in
  • Use standard co-ax lead to go from Video out to TV

This lets record Freeview via the video’s Line in, and watch/record standard TV as normal. The TV SCART is unused, and you’ll need to tune the TV into the video’s RF channel to watch video and Freeview. A SCART splitter may be worth considering to make use of the TV’s SCART socket.

Video has one SCART, TV has one SCART (Freeview HAS modulator)

  • Connect the main TV aerial into Freeview box
  • Use standard co-ax lead to go from Freeview out to video in
  • Use standard co-ax lead to go from Video out to TV
  • Tune a spare TV channel into the video recorder output (play a tape to find it)
  • Tune another spare TV channel into the Freeview output (press the menu so you recognise Freeview)
  • Now, tune a spare channel on the video recorder into the Freeview output (see the video manual for help)
  • This setup should work, but isn’t using the SCART. You can decide whether to use SCART to go from Freeview-to-video, from Freeview-to-TV or from video-to-TV, depending on your quality preference

This lets record Freeview on a video channel number, and watch Freeview on a channel number

Freeview has two SCARTs, video has two SCART sockets, TV has one SCART socket

  • Connect the Freeview box to the video using a SCART lead
  • Connect the Freeview box to the TV using a SCART lead
  • Connect the main TV aerial into Freeview box
  • Use standard co-ax lead to go from Freeview out to video in
  • Use standard co-ax lead to go from Video out to TV

This is as the picture below. This lets record Freeview via the video’s Line in, and watch/record standard TV as normal. The TV Line In can be used for Freeview reception.

How to connect

My TV doesn’t have a SCART socket! Most Freeview set-top boxes send their outputs via a SCART socket. So, what do you do if your TV or video doesn’t have a SCART socket? There are two options:

  1. You can look for equipment that has an RF modulated output (such as the Icecrypt T5000). A box with a built-in modulator will allow you to use a standard aerial cable to plug into your existing TV co-ax socket. Once connected, you can then tune one of spare channels on your TV into the channel being used (i.e. ‘modulated’) by the Freeview box, in the same way as you would tune in an ordinary TV signal.
  2. UHF ModulatorYou can make use of something called a RF modulator – a box that converts SCART signals to a signal that can connect into your TV’s “aerial in” socket. Plug a SCART socket in one end of the box, and a flylead to your TV in the other, and all should be well. You then tune your TV into the channel that the UHF modulator generates. We’ve used a Universal RF Modulator (Code VH89W) from Maplin Electronics with excellent results. We’ve also found a cheaper one over at TVcables.

For more help on connecting to a TV without a SCART, see our No SCART page

Too few SCART sockets Switch Box from ArgosIf you’re trying something complex like trying to connect a DVD, Freeview set-top-box and a video recorder into a TV set with a single SCART socket, you may soon find you’ve run out of sockets – and what you’ll been needing is a SCART switch box. These let you plug multiple inputs into one box, connect the box to your TV (or video), and then select which SCART feed you want to watch.

Splitters, multi-way SCART sockets, SCART leads and adapters are available from Maplin and Argos

For more on SCART sockets, switches and splitters, see our SCART Switchers help page

Feeding to other rooms If you want to be able to get Freeview into a second room, you have two options:

  • Buy a second Freeview box an connect it to an aerial feed. This is generally the best option, as this will allow you to be able to watch one Freeview channel in one room, and a different Freeview channel in the other room.
  • Connect the output of an existing Freeview set-top box to the other room. We explain how to do this on our TV in other rooms page. This will allow you to watch whatever’s on your Freeview box on a second TV screen.
I can’t tune Freeview in on my recorder If you want to record Freeview onto your video or DVD recorder, you need to do two things – make sure you have connected correctly (help), and make sure the recorder is tuned in correctly.

See our Recording Freeview Guide for more on how to record Freeview onto DVD or video

I’m still having problems connecting If you’re looking to connect your Freeview set-top box into your TV, here’s what you need to do:

  • Unplug the aerial lead (the one that runs to your aerial) from the back of your TV or VHS recorder
  • Plug it into the input aerial socket on the set-top box.
  • You’ll now need to connect the output from the Freeview box into your TV set – if your set-top box has a SCART socket, plug a SCART lead into this and connect it to your TV’s SCART input. If your TV doesn’t have a SCART socket, and your set-top box has a co-ax aerial socket, then you can plug this into your TV’s aerial socket. This causes the TV to “loop through” the set-top box, meaning you can watch normal TV even with the set-top box switched off.
  • If you want to connect via a video recorder, follow the same basic procedure, but go from the aerial to the set-top-box, then from the set-top-box to the video input, then from the video to the TV set.

Some things to remember:

  1. Not all set-top boxes have an ‘RF’ output (a co-ax cable socket), some only have SCART. You can get converters (see above). For a list of which Freeview set-top boxes have RF outputs, see our Freeview page
  2. Signals routed through a SCART lead normally come up on a TV or video recorder’s “AV”, “Ext” or “Line in” channel – they don’t appear on a standard tune-able channel.
  3. A set-top box or video recorder that you connect through an RF/co-ax aerial lead normally needs to be tuned in to a channel on your TV. You have to be careful not to tune your set into a channel that’s being used for something else. Click here for details of interference as a result of a wrongly-tuned set-top box.

SCART switchIf you’re running out of SCART sockets, consider a splitter or switch box (pictured)… For more on SCART switches and splitters, see our SCART Switcher Page.

Still having problems? Please ask in our forum

Set top box questions

Choosing a box Need help choosing a box? See our list of Freeview boxes
Need a manual? See our answer in our TV FAQ
Need a remote? See our answer in our TV FAQ
Problem with your set top box? If you’re having problems with your set-top box, here are a few things to work through:

  • Can you see the Freeview box on-screen menu on your telly? If you can’t, it probably isn’t a reception issue – it’s more likely to be a cabling issue (perhaps a wrongly-connected lead, or a damaged cable/connector), or you aren’t watching the right channel on your TV. In rare cases, it could be a fault with the box. Check it’s not a cabling/connection problem with our Connection page
  • Next, check it’s not a reception problem. If you’re able to see the on-screen menu, but are having a problem tuning in channels, or getting a decent picture, try the tips on our Reception page
  • Box not switching on? Check the remote control is working. Batteries ok?
  • Try a box reboot. Pull the mains plug out for 30 seconds, then reconnect the power – this resolves a lot of software problems
  • Try a reset of your box. How you do this varies depending on model and manufacturer. On some units, there’s a “reset to factory defaults” option somewhere in the onscreen menus – others use a secret reset code. In most cases, the user manual should provide help on how to reset
  • Rescan for channels – It’s also worth performing a full “store channels” in case the channel line-up has changed. Help on rescanning
  • You can also try scanning for updated software , in case there’s a new version with bugs fixed.

Still having problems? Try asking in our RadioandTelly forum, including as much information as possible, and a summary of what you’ve tried. Alternatively, contact the box manufacturer’s support department for help (Google)

Updating your box software The Freeview transmission system supports the ability to “update” Freeview box software over-the-air… this allows new features or bugfixes to be sent to your box.

There’s a hidden channel known as the “Engineering Channel”, which is on the BBC multiplex. Box manufacturers supply their software updates to the owners of this channel, and they are sent over-the-air with other TV signals to update boxes automatically. Updates are sent according to a schedule published here: DTG site download schedule. If your box isn’t listed, it means that there are no scheduled downloads – you may want to contact your box manufacturer to see if there are any updates in the pipeline.

For details of updating an onDigital / ITVdigital box, see below

OnDigital / itvDigital boxes The older onDigital and itvDigital boxes can be used to receive Freeview channels, although some of the newer interactive services may not work, as the software being used today has been updated. Some things to note:

  • You don’t need the old subscription card any more. Just remove it. Freeview channels aren’t encoded, and don’t need the card
  • The channel line-up has changed – You’ll need to re-scan for new channels (“Store” from the menu)
  • New software releases aren’t supported (see below)
Software updates for ondigital boxes If you are using an old onDigital or itvDigital set top box to access Freeview, you may be wondering if you’ll ever be able to get rid of the old references to onDigital in the menus, or be getting new and updated software sent over-the-air to update your box. The answer to this one appears to be “no”.

The old software was developed and distributed under a licensing agreement that is apparently no longer valid (with the demise of itvDigital). This means that any updates to the software would now need additional licensing, development costs, plus fees to get this sent over-the-air to the old boxes. It’s unlikely that anyone will be prepared to pay for this, the box manufacturers have no obligation to update the software, and it’s unlikely the BBC would want to commission this development work and foot the bill.

If you’re looking for newer features, consider buying a newer generation Freeview box – these start from around £30.

“No Event information” A small number of Freeview users have reported that they sometimes get a “No Information” or “No Event Information” message on their channels.

We’re not sure what causes this, or why it only affects some boxes (especially the Sony Freeview models), but from the messages posted on this subject in our forum, it seems that the solution is to reset your Freeview box (turn off and on again), then do a scan for new channels.

Parental lock Forgotten your Freeview parental lock? If you’re using an old onDigital or itvDigital set-top box to access Freeview, and find that you’ve forgotten the parental lock code, the fix is easy. Just remove the old onDigital/itvDigital viewing card. The parental lock code is stored on the card, and not on the box itself.
Problems with sound if you’re finding that you’re able to get picture, but not sound, it’s likely to be one of two things:

  • Most commonly, you have a loose SCART plug – the audio pins on a SCART plug are at one end of the SCART connector, and if the plug isn’t in straight, the audio gets disconnected, but the video doesn’t. Try reconnecting the SCART plug (at both ends) ensuring that the connectors are in and straight. It’s also worth trying a different SCART cable in case the pins are damaged.
  • The Freeview box could be in “mute”. Many boxes have their own audio control separate from the TV. Check that the box isn’t in mute, the volume isn’t down, and that there’s nothing wrong with any of the volume/audio settings via the box’s onscreen menu. The manual may be of help here.

If you’re still having problems, double-check all of your connections for a loose SCART lead, try a reset of the box, or ask for more help in our forum

Problems with stereo? The Freeview service does transmit in stereo. Most Freeview set-top boxes support stereo output, through the SCART socket, or via phono outputs. If you’re not able to get stereo sound to your TV, check the following:

  • If you have connected to a TV using a SCART, you need to watch the Freeview output via your TV set’s AV / Line in feed, and not via a standard TV channel that you may have tuned your box into (More info)
  • If using a SCART lead to your TV, it must be a fully-wired SCART lead. Some leads don’t support all 21 pins. For the technically-minded, audio out is pins 3 and 1 and audio in is pins 6 and 2
  • Check your Freeview manual to ensure your box supports stereo
  • Check the audio settings menu of both your Freeview box and your TV, to make sure you’re not switched to mono
  • If connecting via a video recorder, does the video support stereo? Try going direct to the TV, bypassing the video
  • Remember, not all TV shows are in stereo
What is SetPal? SetPal is a trademarked technology used in Freeview receivers, such as the Daewoo DS608P, Labgear DTT100 and the Triax DVB2000T. It’s software designed for digital TV receivers that handles reception, menus, digital teletext, etc. Landfill alert!
What are Access Devices? Astral / Access Devices: Astral and Access Devices have partnered to bring a range of set-top boxes to market using their core technologies.
Red squares Seeing a red square (and no picture) on a Freeview set-top box indicates no signal. It may be that you are outside the Freeview coverage area, that your aerial lead is not connected correctly, or that you need an aerial upgrade or a signal booster to allow you to pull in signals. See our Reception section. The other (less likely) option, is that your box has developed a fault.
Black and White? Everything’s working fine, but instead of a colour picture from your Freeview box, you’re only getting a monochrome black & white picture. If this is what you’re experiencing, then you probably have a mismatch between the mode that your box is outputting, and the mode that your TV is expecting. For example, the set-top box may be set to output S-Video (also known as Y/C) and your TV set to RGB or PAL.

To solve the problem, change the setting on either the TV or the set-top box to ensure they are the same.

If in doubt, set the AV setting of both to RGB. Refer to the manual if you’re not sure of how to do this.

Timed video recording Of course, it’s possible to set your video recorder to record Freeview channels – see tuning in a video – but what about using a timer to record at the right time and on the right channel?

Obviously you need to set your video’s timer for the required time, and set it to record the Freeview box’s output. It’s then a case of making sure that your Freeview box is switched on, and on the right channel when the programme’s due to start.

Setting the timerSome Freeview set-top-boxes have a timer function included, allowing you to get the box to come out of standby and switch to a certain Freeview channel at a certain time. If your box has a timer facility, follow the onscreen instructions (or see the manual) for details of how to switch the box to the right channel. You have to set both the box timer and the video recorder if you want unattended recording of a Freeview channel.

The video recorder should be set to monitor your AV channel, and it’s up to whatever’s on your AV channel to be switched on and tuned to the right channel. You should use the timer on your set-top box to get on the right Freeview channel at the right time.

A more advanced solution is a Freeview PVR – and these are falling in price at the moment. A PVR is a set-top box Freeview receiver with a built-in hard-disk recorder. It records shows to a hard-disk for later viewing or copying to a video or DVD-recorder. For more on PVRs for Freeview, See our PVR Advice page.

Can I have two boxes? Yes – as long as each box has an aerial feed from a TV aerial capable of receiving Freeview, then multiple boxes shouldn’t be a problem. If you’re running cable over a long distance, or splitting your cables to share lots of equipment, you may suffer from interference from other electrical equipment, but in most cases as long as your cabling is sound, there shouldn’t be a problem.

In some cases, a powered splitter or distribution amp may be needed if you’re seeing interference after connecting up other equipment. Boosters and splitters are available from both Argos and Maplin Electronics.

Freeview in a caravan? We’ve been asked if there’s a Freeview box that can be run from a 12V supply (a car or leisure battery), for use in a caravan or motor home. The only box that might fit the bill that we know of is the Hauppauge 1100-T, but we’ve not got any way of verifying that, See our Hauppauge 1100-T FAQ for more.

As of October 2005, there’s another potential option – the Bush idaptor, which plugs direct into a TV’s SCART , and uses a 12V mains adapter for power – again, it may be possible to use an alternative supply.

It’s also been suggested that the Matsui TUTV1 could be an option as this is also powered by a 12V mains transformer – again, we can’t guarantee this works – we provide the info as-is

Using a box overseas You’re unlikely to be able to get the UK Freeview service overseas.

Sometimes, we’re asked if a UK Freeview box can be taken to another country to be used with their digital TV services. There’s not a quick answer to this one:

The UK uses the European DVB-T transmission system, and post-Digital Switchover, uses the 8k COFDM modulation system. In the US, they don’t use the COFDM system. To work out whether a UK Freeview box will work in other European countries, you need to check the format and frequency range that your target country uses, then look at the specs of the set-top box to see if it uses the right COFDM system and frequency range. Here’s what we’ve discovered about the UK format:

UK frequency range: 470MHz-860MHz (UHF), (47MHz-230MHz VHF)
UK coding system: MPEG-2
UK COFDM system: 2k (Before Switchover) and 8k (After Switchover)

If you’re looking to be able to get UK television from outside the UK, see the advice on our Overseas FAQ

 

For info and deals on set-top boxes, see our receivers page

5 Responses to "Freeview Frequently Asked Questions"

  1. Bryan Says:

    BushiD Twin Tuner DV3 how do I clear disc space?

  2. barton Says:

    why does freeview loose its channel when the weather like today is foggy we loose all channel at least with old system you only lost channel when the tv studios broke down and then it was only one channel this is crap when you can get none either fix it or take it off altogether

  3. anthony runnicles Says:

    4channels are in 16.9 mode 18 22 47 & 85 why

  4. Betty swift Says:

    The set up box has been working up until recently now it is permanently on standby

  5. Betty swift Says:

    The set up box constantly on standby. Did work up until this weekend

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