New to Freeview? Here are the Basics

Freeview logoFreeview is a Digital TV service that allows you to watch over 40 extra channels via your TV aerial.

You don’t need a satellite dish, and there’s no subscription charge – all you need is a Freeview set-top box, or a telly that has a built-in Freeview receiver.

This page is aimed at people looking to switch over to Freeview, and provides a basic guide on how to get and start watching Freeview.

Freeview channels
For information on what channels are available on Freeview, see our Freeview Channels List


Freeview: 5 things you need to know:

  1. Freeview uses a TV aerial to get TV channels – As long as you’re in a good reception area, you should be able to
    view over 40 TV channels and around 20 radio channels.
  2. You don’t need to get a new TV or have a satellite dish installed to get Freeview.
  3. You can get a Freeview receiver box for around £20. Most new TV sets and DVD recorders come with a built-in Freeview receiver.
  4. There’s no subscription fee with Freeview. If you want more channels, there are other services that offer more than Freeview (such as Sky, YouView, Freesat or Virgin) – See our Digital TV Compared chart.
  5. The old analogue TV service was finally switched off in October 2102 (See: Digital Switchover). Now, Freeview is how most people will watch free TV.


How to get Freeview:

Step 1 – Check your coverage

Freeview uses a TV aerial to get TV channels. The service is broadcast
over the air in a similar way to the standard five TV channels, but uses newer digital technology to offer more channels.

To get Freeview, you have to be in a Freeview coverage area. Not all of the UK can get Freeview yet.
To check if you can get Freeview, enter your
postcode at

Step 2 – Get a Set-top box or Digital TV set

If you are in a Freeview coverage area, you’ll need to get a Freeview box (or a TV set with Freeview built in). Freeview boxes are the cheaper option – They connect to your existing TV set or recorder, and you plug in your normal TV aerial.

Freeview box Boxes can be purchased for a one-off fee, starting from around £20 for a basic box. They can be bought from high-street stores such as Currys, but shopping online for a set-top box is often the best route, as there are some good bargains to be had.

What to consider when buying a Freeview box:

  • Price: From £20 – no subscription, installation or
    ongoing costs (apart from the standard UK TV licence).
  • SCART plugConnectivity: Almost all boxes have a single SCART socket as standard, for connection either
    to a TV or video. You may want to consider improving your connection
    options by getting a box with two SCART sockets that allows connection
    to both a TV and video recorder. (No spare SCART? Consider a TVonics box)
  • Features: All boxes allow you to access the standard Freeview TV and radio channels.
    Most boxes also have an electronic programme guides
    (EPG), support interactive
    (digital teletext and the ‘red button’) and subtitles. More
    advanced boxes come with built-in hard-disk

See our Freeview set-top box list for a look at what’s available


Radio and Telly’s Freeview Quick Picks
Philips DTR230GOODMANS GDB18FVZS2: Basic box with 2 SCART sockets. Amazon / Currys £25 YouView from BT BoxBT YouView: Freeview HD recorder plus on-demand content.
More info:
Humax PVR-9300Humax PVR-9300: Includes a hard-disk recorder that holds 160 hours of TV. Currys £152

Step 3 – Connecting a Freeview Set-top box

  • TV aerialOnce you have got your new Freeview set-top box, you’ll need to connect it the
    aerial. Unplug the aerial lead (the one that runs up to your roof/loft TV aerial) from the back of your TV, and plug this lead into the ‘aerial in’ socket on the Freeview box.
  • You now need to connect from your Freeview box to the TV. If your TV has a SCART socket, connect from the Freeview box to the TV via a SCART lead. (No SCART socket?).
  • Line in iconThe next step is to tune your TV into the Freeview box channel. Switch on
    your TV and your Freeview box. If connecting with a SCART lead, then you should switch your TV to the “AV”, “Aux” or “Line in” feed. If you’re not connecting with a SCART lead, you’ll need to tune your TV into the output of the Freeview box, in the same way you’d tune in a standard TV station. Refer to your TV manual for details on
    how to do this.
  • With the box connected, you’ll need to scan for Freeview channels. Go to the Freeview box’s onscreen menu, and perform a “Store channels”, “Channel tuning” or “Add channels”.
    The box will scan for Freeview channels (may take a couple of minutes), and then show you what it’s found.

That’s it – Happy viewing!


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Freeview Problems?

  • Answers to Freeview reception difficulty and connection problems can be found on our Freeview Help and Advice section.
  • If your question isn’t answered, please leave a message in our Freeview forum


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