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Freeview Explained

Freeview LogoFreeview is digital TV received via a TV aerial. If you're in range of a Freeview transmitter, chances are your existing TV aerial is able to get Freeview.

Freeview offers around 40 digital TV channels, including the main five channels, plus channels like ITV2, BBC3, E4, Dave, Quest, 5 USA, Pick TV, plus news, music and kids channels.

Freeview's the cheapest way of getting digital TV. Freeview boxes are available for a one-off cost of about £20, and there's no subscription.


How do I get Freeview?

Freeview box, from PhilipsFreeview is available subscription-free via a TV aerial. You need to be in a Freeview reception area though.

To check if you're in a coverage area, enter your postcode into the Freeview Postcode Checker. There's more on Freeview coverage below.


Here are the ways that you can get Freeview:

  • Standard Freeview set-top box - If your TV has a spare SCART socket, a Freeview set-top box may be your best bet. These are available for upwards of £20 from the likes of Currys, Tesco and Argos

  • Digital TV set - Known as an IDTV, these are TV sets with a built-in Freeview receiver. Most brand new TV sets on sale in the UK are "Digital TV Ready" and come with a built-in Freeview receiver.

  • PVR - personal video recorder - Basically a set-top box with a built-in Freeview receiver and a hard-disk for recording Freeview programmes without using tape. DVR information

  • BT Vision - If you're with BT Broadband, or you fancy swapping Internet providers, BT will provide you with a high-spec digital TV set-top box that receives Freeview programmes and also lets you watch on-demand films, TV, sport and kids TV over broadband. BT Vision explained

  • Top Up TV Anytime - A Freeview receiver that gets extra programmes downloaded onto a hard-disk overnight. Based on the feedback from our site visitors, we can't recommend Top Up TV Anytime as good value for money, or for reliability. Top Up TV overview

How to connect a Freeview box

The five steps to getting your Freeview box connected and working:

1. First, connect from the Freeview set-top box to the TV set using a SCART lead (No SCART on your TV?)
SCART socket
2. Next, plug in a TV aerial feed to the Freeview set-top box
SCART socket
3. Switch on the TV and the Freeview box at the mains
Power Switch
4. Set the TV to the Line In / SCART socket (normally labeled AV / Line In or with the icon on the right)
Line In icon
5. Scan for Freeview channels - the option will be available via the Freeview's on-screen menu.
Scan for channels

Freeview coverage

At the moment, Freeview isn't operating on full power in the UK. This is partly so that it doesn't interfere with normal analogue telly, and partly as some transmitters have not been converted to digital yet. Coverage and signal strength will improve as we get closer to 2012, when the switchover is complete.

To check if you're in a coverage area, enter your postcode into the Freeview Postcode Checker. This will tell you if you're meant to get Freeview where you are.

For more, see our Freeview Coverage FAQ . Also, see our Coverage Checkers Explained FAQ