Get Freeview – 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.

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.

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


How to get Freeview:

Step 1 – Check coverage

Freeview is transmitted over the air in a similar way to the standard five TV channels, but uses newer technology to offer more channels. You receive the signals via a TV aerial that’s pointing at a TV transmitter.

To get Freeview, you have to be in a coverage area. As of 2009, over 75% of the UK can get Freeview. To check if you can, enter your postcode at

Step 2 – Get a Set-top box

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

Here are a few things to consider when buying a Freeview box:

  • Price:
    Prices start from around £20 – no subscription, installation or ongoing costs (apart from the standard UK TV licence).
  • Connectivity:
    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.

    SCART plug
    A SCART plug 

  • Features:
    All boxes allow you to access the standard Freeview TV and radio channels.
    Most boxes also support interactive
    (digital teletext, ‘the red button’) and subtitles. More
    advanced boxes have extra features such as electronic programme guides
    (EPG), support for Freeview HD, and programme
    timers. Top-of-the-range boxes come with built-in hard-disk
    Consider what features you’re looking for, and browse what’s on offer
    on our set-top box page

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 £164

If you’re looking to buy a Freeview receiver, see our set-top box page for the full range of UK boxes.

Step 3 – Connecting a Freeview Set-top box
  • TV aerialOnce you have got your new Freeview set-top box, you’ll need to connect the
    aerial. Unplug the aerial
    lead (the one that runs up to your roof/loft TV aerial) from the back
    of your TV or VHS recorder, 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. If your TV doesn’t have a SCART lead,
    you can connect from your box to your TV using a standard aerial lead
    (Note you must have a Freeview box with a ‘modulator’ for this configuration.
  • Line in iconThe
    next step is to tune your TV into the Freeview box channel. Switch on
    your TV and Freeview box. If connecting with a SCART,
    then you should switch your TV to the “AV”, “Aux”
    or “Line in” feed. If using an aerial 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”.
    The box will scan for Freeview channels (may take a couple of minutes),
    and then show you what it’s found.

it – Happy viewing!

Connecting via a video recorder

If you want to connect via your
VHS 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. For more help getting connected, see our
dedicated Connection page

How to connect

Freeview problems?

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

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