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Missing Freeview channels? It might be time to upgrade

  • This is an archived article, which contains information that may no longer be in date. It is kept online for reference purposes.
You don't get certain Freeview channels, despite retuning and updating your channel list when you're told to do so. But it's not due to a broken aerial, 4G interference or a transmitter problem. It could be because your TV or Freeview box is falling behind the times...

A drive to move more channels to the newer DVB-T2 broadcast standard means viewers could be missing out on the full range of Freeview channels available to them at their location, including Al Jazeera and CBS Drama.

In the UK, DVB-T2 was introduced to the public in 2010, following a trade launch at the end of 2009. It was initially introduced to provide HD channels with sufficient bandwidth to broadcast on Freeview. Since 2014 a number of standard definition channels have launched using DVB-T2 or moved to the newer broadcast standard. CBS Drama and VIVA are examples of channels that have switched to being only broadcast in DVB-T2 on Freeview.

DVB-T2 compatible equipment includes those devices that carry the "Freeview HD", "Freeview Play" or "YouView" branding. An "HD ready" TV without Freeview HD branding is not compatible, neither are older Freeview receivers. In a nutshell, if your receiver isn't able to get BBC One HD (channel 101), it's not DVB-T2 compatible.

There are currently three groups of channels, called multiplexes, that use the DVB-T2 standard across the UK, plus a further multiplex in parts of Northern Ireland.

One of these multiplexes is broadcast from every transmitter in the UK. The other two aren't and have a technical reach of around 75% of UK households. In practice, due to aerial types and the direction aerials are pointing at, it's just over 70%. This means there's a big divide in who can get what on Freeview using the new standard.

That's due to change over the course of the next four years, when more of the Freeview service looks set to move to the DVB-T2 standard, in conjunction with major frequency changes being made.

(Updated 01/09/2016)
The following TV channels are only available with a DVB-T2 tuner via Freeview:
  • Film4+1 - channel 45  (98.5% UK coverage)
  • 5STAR + 1 - channel 55 (just over 70% UK coverage)
  • 5USA + 1 - channel 56 (just over 70% UK coverage)
  • VIVA - channel 57 (just over 70% coverage)
  • CBS Reality+1 - channel 67 (just over 70% UK coverage)
  • CBS Drama - channel 71 (just over 70% UK coverage)
  • Rishtey - channel 77 (just over 70% UK coverage)
  • Talking Pictures - channel 81 (just over 70% UK coverage)
  • Vintage TV - channel 82 (just over 70% UK coverage)
  • VIVA +1 - channel 86 (just over 70% UK coverage)
  • Keep It Country - channel 87 (just over 70% UK coverage)
  • BBC One HD - channel 101 (98.5% UK coverage)
  • BBC Two HD - channel 102 (98.5% UK coverage)
  • ITV / STV / UTV HD - channel 103 (98.5% UK coverage)
  • Channel 4 HD - channel 104 (98.5% UK coverage)
  • Channel 5 HD - channel 105 (98.5% UK coverage)
  • BBC Four HD - channel 106 (just over 70% UK coverage)
  • BBC News HD - channel 107 (just over 70% UK coverage)
  • Al Jazeera English HD - channel 108 (just over 70% UK coverage)
  • Channel 4+1 HD - channel 109 (just over 70% UK coverage)
  • 4seven HD - channel 110 (just over 70% UK coverage)
  • QVC+1 HD - channel 111 (just over 70% UK coverage)
  • QVC Beauty HD - channel 112 (just over 70% UK coverage)
  • RT HD - channel 113 (just over 70% UK coverage)
  • CBBC HD - channel 123 (98.5% UK coverage)
  • CBeebies HD - channel 124 (just over 70% UK coverage)

In parts of Northern Ireland, viewers with a DVB-T2 receiver will also gain access to channels from the Irish Republic. In the Channel Islands, only Film4+1, BBC One HD, BBC Two HD, Channel 4 HD, CBBC HD and soon Channel 5 HD are available via DVB-T2.

The quickest way of finding out which channels are available in your area is by going to the official Digital UK Freeview coverage checker. It shows which channels from local transmitters are available in your area. The number of channels may vary depending on your aerial type and which transmitter it is pointing to, if there is a choice at your location.

Ultimately, more and more channels will make the switch in the coming years, so even if you are not in an area where all DVB-T2 services are available at the moment, it's best to ensure any new TV or box carries the Freeview HD or Freeview Play or YouView logo.

Many of these receivers also include smart TV functions, such as being able to access catch up TV via the internet and other online streaming services and they are designed to handle Freeview retunes more smoothly, with less intervention required, especially for minor channel changes.