Weather related Freeview reception problems

Atmospheric conditions under the current high pressure system over the UK have affected terrestrial TV and radio reception in some areas and have made retuning Freeview more difficult.  

The current atmospheric conditions are helping signals from further afield reach viewer's aerials, interfering with reception. Very little can be done to improve reception in the short-term. 

However, the conditions may make retuning Freeview more difficult than usual on some devices, with equipment scanning and receiving additional services from distant transmitters that are more prone to break-up as atmospheric conditions change. This may be true for some viewers who recently retuned to get the new Drama channel on Freeview channel 20, where the receiver may have stored usually unreceivable distant signals instead of channels from the local transmitter.  A manual retune may be required to correct matters.

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Viewers along the south and east coasts may be affected by interference from TV broadcasts from the continent.

In most areas, frequencies allocated to the main channels are least likely to be affected by current atmospheric conditions in the core coverage area of a main transmitter, although reception of other services, including services from relay transmitters may suffer. 

RTSI - Reception Advice - High Pressure co-channel interference >
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Households with a wideband aerial and/or high-gain aerial are also more likely to be affected. This is because such aerials are more likely to be able to receive unwanted, interfering signals from other transmitters.

The large increase in signal power that took place at digital switchover means that some households may be able to remove boosters. Some households may even be able to "downsize" their TV aerial, if they had a larger one installed solely to receive the then low-powered pre-digital switchover signal. This may reduce further instances of interference.

Similarly, boosters may amplify interfering signals so as to make it difficult to watch certain channels.

The Freeview service is made of groups or bundles of channels called multiplexes, each assigned to a different frequency. Therefore, reception problems will affect an entire group of channels throughout the Freeview channel line-up.

In some of the larger towns and cities across the UK, 4G mobile services are beginning to go live on the former TV frequencies in the 800 MHz frequency band. However, if you are in an area where this may be a problem, you should have received a postcard from at800 with details. Affected households will get a filter. At the moment, interference for most of the UK is unlikely to be down to 4G transmissions starting.

On FM and DAB, current atmospheric conditions cause distant stations to interfere with local radio stations. This can cause the temporary loss of DAB radio stations and poor quality FM reception. 

While it is an inconvenience for most, radio enthusiasts will be using the opportunity to see how many distant stations they are able to tune into - until the weather changes.



Picture blockiness or break-up, where before the reception was OK

“No signal” or “Channel Unavailable” messages

Retune resulting in wrong regional or foreign services being received


Not much that can be done during the current weather conditions.

Avoid retuning, especially if you are unsure of the retuning process. Unwanted distant channels may be added to the channel line-up instead of your local services. Services should come back after the weather conditions change.

Remove boosters to reduce incoming interference.

Long term: If a wideband or high-gain aerial was installed before the digital switchover, is it still needed since the digital Freeview service was boosted in power at switchover? A well-installed standard aerial may be able to receive all available Freeview channels and be less likely to "pull" interfering signals, unless conditions are exceptionally bad.
Ask your local aerial installer who will know what's best for your area. 

South Coast: Some viewers around the Isle of Wight/Dorset/Hampshire area may get a more reliable signal by having their aerials rotated on their axis by 90 degrees, due to the main Rowridge transmitter on the Isle of Wight broadcasting a stronger signal using vertical polarisation since switchover last year. (Interfering French signals are broadcast using horizontal polarisation.) Ask your local aerial installer who will know what's best for your area.

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