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As weather disrupts TV reception, viewers advised to stream TV instead


Atmospheric conditions that have helped bring record warmth across the UK have produced ongoing Freeview interference.

For over a week now, viewers in various parts of England and Wales have been prone to signal drop-outs across various Freeview channels, leading Freeview to recommend streaming TV instead - and not to retune.

In a two-part tweet, Freeview's reception advice team said "High-pressure weather conditions could cause picture break up or loss of channels for some viewers in Wales, parts of Southern England & West Midlands today & the next couple of days.  Please don’t retune your TV as reception should improve once conditions return to normal. Viewers can still watch live and on-demand TV through players such as BBC iPlayer & ITV Hub on an internet connected Freeview Play TV or one that has players available to view. Alternatively, viewers can live stream content via the Freeview mobile app on an iPhone or iPad."

Atmospheric conditions act as a mirror, allowing signals from distant transmitters to travel further around the curve of the earth and cancel out reception of local transmitters broadcasting on the same frequencies.

Local, some HD and smaller commercial channels have been most affected, due to their frequency allocations.

It's led to some viewers telling a516digital that they can receive foreign stations through their TV, while struggling to receive UK-based channels.

Southern coastal areas have also seen days of disruption, where non-terrestrial TV services such as Freesat have provided the only way to receive a consistent TV signal. Local TV installers have been saying they've been receiving a high number of calls from customers due to the signal troubles.

As more of the TV frequency band is cleared for mobile services, there are fears that interference caused by multiple transmitters using the same frequencies is going to worsen. In 2013, clearance of the 800MHz TV frequency band was completed. Since 2017, a scheme to clear the 700MHz band from TV services is underway. This has resulted in TV services being squashed on fewer frequencies leading to the more frequent reuse of frequencies over a smaller geographic area. For most of the time, TV networks can be designed so as to mitigate most interference risks.

Viewers have been told that reception should return to normal once the weather changes later in the week.

In some areas, digital radio reception has also been impacted, with interference manifesting itself with a bubbling noise or cutouts.