How do you get Freeview TV?

Jan 19, 2021

Is Freeview Free?

Yes, in terms of access to the Freeview platform. You access it via a terrestrial TV aerial unlike other paid Digital TV services- Sky or Virgin. While Freeview is essentially ‘free’ and no subscription is required, you need to keep in mind that you are still required by law to have a TV license.

While Freeview as a Digital tv Platform is free to view and does not require a subscription, you need to ensure that you purchase the correct equipment to receive it. I still get phone calls from people concerned that the TV they purchased 5 years ago isn’t Freeview compatible. I reassure them that it will be.

Do I need a Compatible Television?

They have been manufacturing Freeview compatible TV’s since 2002, so you would have to have a TV 15 years old at least for this to be a concern and most people haven’t got TV’s that old. Just because the TV doesn’t have the Freeview logo or trademark on it does not mean that the TV is not compatible with Freeview.  Do you have a cherished old TV dating back pre- 2002?  You can still adapt that TV to work with Freeview via a set top box.

In fact that is exactly what my mother-in-law did. She had an old analogue Panasonic portable TV in her bedroom. It was a gift from her late mother, and it was still going strong at the time of the switchover in her area 2011. She was loathed to part with the TV I suggested a small set top box. It cost around £20 and we adapted that to her Panasonic TV. Tuned in all the new Digital TV channels and she was very happy with that. She has since replaced that TV with a Digital one but only a couple of years back. She was able to get another 4 years out of the old faithful Panasonic TV and it was still going strong when she replaced it.

What Channels are on Freeview?  

The benefit of Digital over Analogue is that you can access so many more channels on the Digital bandwidth than you could on the old analogue and hence Freeview has more channels than we are likely to watch, most people still stick to only a handful of their favourite channels. However, let’s explore the Freeview channel line up a bit.

The old analogue television services, for example BBC 1 or BBC 2, were all broadcast from a TV transmitter using separate frequencies. Digital television works differently. It allows the broadcaster to group a number of television services together. This is called a multiplex or MUX. These are broadcast all on that one frequency from a transmitter. Your TV, or set- top box splits out each individual service in the multiplex and allows you to watch them as separate channels.

There are for example 5 main Multiplexes and 2 minor ones broadcast from the Winter Hill Transmitter. PSB1 (c32 562.0MHz) for example hosts all the BBC group of channels- BBC1,2,3,4, CBeebies, BBC NEWS, BBC Parliament and radio services. PSB2 (c34 578.0MHz) hosts  all the ITV group- ITV1,2,3+1 channels and the Channel 4 group- Channel 4 4+1 More 4, Film4 etc. and the Channel 5 group of channels.  PSB3 (c35 585.8MHz) hosts all the HD services including BBC,ITV, Channel 4 & 5.  Then you have COM4 (c29 538.0MHz) with some of the lesser viewed channels like, Quest, Drama, 5USA, Blaze, The Horror Channel, CBS Reality as well as Channel 5+1 and ITV2+1.  If you would like to see a less confusing line up of all the Freeview channels then you can visit:,

Are you watching your paid channels?

You may wonder looking at all those available free to view channels whether it’s worth paying for a subscription-based TV service like Sky or Virgin?  I suppose only you can answer that question, but one thing I have noticed over the years of servicing customers Aerials and Dishes with both Freeview and Sky TV, is this, many I have noticed all watch the same channels!  I have had customers who has been subscribed to Sky for 10 years and then realised that all the channels they love to watch, are free to view on Freeview! What they had actually been paying for they don’t watched, channels like Sky 1 or National Geographic. However, if you love those channels or are a sports enthusiast, then you will only find those types of programmes and sports events on Sky and I suppose in that case it makes it worth paying for.

How can I tell if my tell if my TV has Freeview?

Chances are the TV you have can get Freeview. If your TV is less than 15 years old is should be able to get Freeview.  TV manufacturers started producing IDTV’S (integrated digital televisions) with tuners capable of decoding Digital TV signals back in 2002, so it’s unlikely that the TV you are concerned about is an analogue only tv.  Most TV ‘s these days have a lifespan less than 15 years, so, the chancefreeview digital aerial logos are your TV is not that old.

As a general rule of thumb if the TV you have is an LED, LCD or Plasma TV, is will be Digital compatible.  In fact, even some of the last to be manufactured CRT (cathode-ray tv’s) are IDTV’S with the ability to tune Freeview.  We had an old Sony CRT tv that I was loathed to part with because it worked with Freeview, had a great picture and well, there was nothing wrong with it, it just had a huge back to it and was a nightmare to move lol!

The only sure-fire way to know if your TV will work with Freeview is to try it. Simply plug in your TV Aerial lead into the back of the TV, go the set-up menu and select ‘tune or search for channels.’ If you see the channels scanning in, then voila! you have a TV compatible with Freeview!

Do Smart TV’s have Freeview?

 Yes. A smart TV simply means that that TV can access ‘apps’ and tune into a broadband internet signal, it really has nothing to do with Freeview. However, because Smart TV’s only started being produced back around 2010 and the first apparent smart tv was produced in 2008, so as these TV’s were produced after the switchover from analogue to digital had begun, all smart tv’s are compatible with Freeview.

Can I get Freeview through the internet?

 Yes and no. Freeview is broadcast via terrestrial tv transmitters primarily. Though many of the channels carried on the service also have what are known as ‘catch up channels’. For example BBC has BBC iplayer and ITV have a catch up service and channel 4 they have 4OD (on demand). These catch up services are internet streamed, hence yes you can access some Freeview content via the internet. This service is known as ‘Freeview Play’ and there is even a dedicated app you can download for this service. Nevertheless, the full Freeview channel line-up is not available for internet streaming.

How do I get Freeview on my TV without aerial?

 Freeview really does require a TV Aerial to receive it.  Yet, as described above you can access certain channels through Freeview Play on their own dedicated app. Why the need for an alternative to Freeview? If for any reason you cannot affix a Terrestrial TV Aerial to you property. For example, say you live in a community that forbids TV Aerials on roofs. Or, say you property is a listed building hence no aerials are allowed to be visible on the property. Finally if it’s not possible say to install a TV Aerial in the loft. Then in that case, Freesat would be your go to option for Free to view digital TV. It gives you the same channel line-up plus more as you would get on Freeview.

Freesat is really the Satellite version of Freeview. Satellite dishes can be mounted at a much lower level. Thus accepted on many strict property developments. They can be installed generally out of site if your property is a listed building. We offer a free no obligation survey to tell you whether this is possible or not.

Can I use my Sky Dish for Freeview?

 The simple answer is no.  Freeview is a Terrestrial Broadcast service. Satellite dishes do not work with Terrestrial signals. This is because they are designed to receive signals broadcast at much higher frequencies. They simply are different platforms and are not compatible. However, if your question is, can I receive Freeview channels on a Sky dish? Then the answer to that question is yes!  As already covered in this article, Freesat is the satellite equivalent to Freeview. Hence most, if not nearly all the channels available on Freeview are available on Sky (subscription based) and Freesat.

What Aerial do I need for Freeview?

Freeview being a Digital TV platform has a wide beam signal bandwidth. Therefore, TV Aerials/Antennas installed for the purpose of receiving Freeview must be designed and tuned for wideband signal transmission.

Yes, it is true that even old analogue TV Aerials will pick up Digital signals, but they won’t perhaps pick all of them up.  Even some TV Aerials/Antennas marketed and sold as ‘Digital TV Aerials’ are not always adequate. This is because Digital tv requires a steady high-level reception. So, as to avoid the ‘cliff effect’ digital signals are represented as 1’s and 0’s.  Put simply, this means they are either on or off. For a reliable uninterrupted viewing experience, the Digital tv Aerial needs to ensure that the signal constantly remains ‘on’. This is despite fluctuation in signal caused by atmospheric conditions or competing signals. Known as ‘Co Channel Interference’. The Industry in an effort to inform the public at the time of the switchover came up with the Digital tick scheme.

Remember the Digital Tick Scheme?

Yes, the Digital tick scheme was to alert consumers that only products with the Digital tick were approved for reliable Digital tv reception. Whether that be tv’s, set top boxes, tv Aerials/Antennas or cables.  The Industries regulators over TV Aerial engineers, like the CAI for example (Confederation of Aerial Industries) came out with their own benchmark scheme whereby all TV Aerials, cables and equipment were tested, measure and given a CAI approval rating. This was to inform the industry and to help raise the standards amongst tv aerial engineers. When choosing a TV Aerial Engineer to supply and install your tv aerial, it’s worth enquiring; ‘Is the TV Aerial supplied a Digital tick or CAI approved Aerial?  If not, then it might be as well to give that company a wide birth.

Do I need a High Gain Aerial?

One other consideration is the power of the TV Aerial being supplied and installed. So, do you require a High Gain Digital TV Aerial? What is a ‘High Gain’ Aerial?

Signal reception is measure in terms of ‘gain’. Hence a high gain antenna is capable of receiving more signal that a contract or standard tv aerial can. However, it might not be the right choice for you.

Many live in an area whereby the signal levels from your local TV transmitter are strong. In that case a high gain TV aerial could do more harm than good. Otherwise, you will receive  too much signal being received. What we call in the trade as, ‘over modulation’. Too much signal is just as bad as not enough, we call this the Goldilocks principle. I have sometimes been asked by clients to install a tv aerial that they themselves have purchased online. In some cases they have made a point of buying a high gain aerial. A problem if the customer lives in a strong signal zone. We have had to, in some cases, replace the tv aerial they bought with a less powerful one. Or add a modulator to reduce the signal to avoid disruption to the picture.

Our recommended Digital TV Aerial for most situations is the Log Periodic Aerial, these are Digital tick and CAI approved and have some other advantages as well, let’s take a look in this video here: 

In conclusion, always ask your local TV Aerial engineer for advice. It’s usually free and may end up saving you money.


For help from a professional engineer contact us on the number below.

TV Aerials Manchester, 22 Lever Street, Manchester. M1 1EA Tel: 0161 883 1945