Q&A: Why can’t I get Freeview HD

Steve Livesey asks

I recently bought a Samsung LE40C580 LCD TV from Amazon.  Now it was described as having FreeviewHD built in, but after tuning I am only get the usual Freeview channels.  It has the FreeviewHD logo on the box and DVB-T/DVB-C/DVB-T2 in the specs.

I checked on Freeviews website to make sure HD was available in my area (Lincoln) before buying, which it said had been since March 2010.

Do you have any idea why I am not getting the HD channels?  Do I need another new aerial?

There are a number of possible answers to this sort of problem, so let’s go through them in order.

First, in some areas, the Freeview HD signal is not being broadcast at full power yet, and so the coverage is not as good as it is for the standard channels. So, just because you can get Freeview doesn’t necessarily mean you can get Freeview HD. However, since the Freeview web site (which usually errs on the cautious side) says you can, we can discount this as the problem.

Next, in some areas, people haven’t always used the “recommended” transmitter, either because of very local issues, like a tall building in the way, or because they want a different local region. For example, where my mother lives in Winchester, you can point your aerial at either Rowridge on the Isle of Wight, or Hannington near Basingstoke; the recommended side is Rowridge, but some people get better reception from Hannington.

The coverage website tends to tell you what you can expect from the recommended transmitter, but if your original aerial was pointing at a different one, because of a tall building or – which is not uncommon – a different transmitter got Freeview first – you might not be getting the correct Freeeview HD signals.

And that’s the most likely case here; Lincoln is more or less equidistant between two transmitters, Belmont and Waltham, though Belmont probably has a better signal in most of the city. However, neither of these provides Freeview HD until later this year.

The March 2010 reference most likely applies to the signal from the Emley Moor transmitter, which is one of the ‘advance network’ Freeview HD transmitters; that means it’s one that won’t be at full power until later – so even if you do receive standard definition from there, the HD signal won’t be strong enough.

So, the answer in this case is likely to be that the Freeview website is suggesting you use Emley Moor transmitter, but failing to point out the lower signal strength of HD. The two nearer transmitters are scheduled for switchover this summer, at which time you will get HD service from them, so the best advice is to do nothing, and just wait. If your existing aerial is a ‘wideband’ one, then you do not need to have it replaced, but you may want to have to repositioned at switchover to point to the transmitter that will be giving you the best signal.

Besides the Freeview website, another good site for coverage information is Wolfbane, which will tell you the transmitter you need, and which way to point your aerial.

One last thing

One other point to mention, which probably isn’t relevant in this case, is that if you live in a block of flats with a shared aerial system, there may be additional work needed to get Freeview and Freeview HD. I’ll explain that separately in another post.

13 thoughts on “Q&A: Why can’t I get Freeview HD

  1. A useful and informative article as far as it goes. But since it’s labelled as Q&A then I’d have thought you might have mentioned the other big reason people can’t get Freeview HD …

    … that their “HD Ready” “Freeview” TV isn’t actually capable of getting Freeview HD at all as it isn’t T2 capable.

    I know it’s not the case for this particular reader, but I reckon there are quite a few poeple in the latter camp, having been “misled” byt what I think is deliberately confusing labelling on the part of CE vendors (not to mention the “lack of knowledge” on the part of many so called sales people).

  2. I am unable to recieve hd freeview channels.i am in the northeast of england and use the pontop pike transmitter and have a full hd tv.

    1. Your TV may be ‘Full HD’ but that doesn’t necessarily mean that is an HD reciever – the term ‘Full HD’, like ‘HD Ready’ is just a description of the actual screen.

      To receive the HD channels, the set needs to understand the DVB-T2 broadcast format, and the H.264 picture compression format; you need to check the specs to see if it includes both those, or if it’s specifically labelled ‘Freeview HD,’ which covers both.

  3. im having problems getting freeview hd too but am not sure if its because of the very low signal power from my local area mast or my so called hd ready tv only has a normal sd freeview receiver inside where i live the signal is bad only takes a bit of low wind at some times of year to mess up the picture. our closest transmitters are malvern and ridge hill it says west midlands which is malvern i assume. it also gets gloucestershire as well and normally finds those first on a scan not sure if thats of ridge hill or not. its a jvc dyna pix hd 22″ i think or 24 has a usb hdmi rgb and a comnon interface module slot what they are for i do not have a clue it has nothing inside it. its puzzling me

  4. Isnt it misleading for a retailer to sell a tv with full hd and when used it cannot get freeview tv! I know somebody who has recently bought a samsung full hd tv which cant get hd freeview,and the instruction booklet says the tv has a built in freeview tuner, their answer to this is ,”it is a misprint” the retailer said it has not got the freeview hd tuner. If a tv is sold as hd it means it picks up hd full stop. is there a case for miss selling here?

    1. It’s not a misprint, but I agree many people are unclear on the terminology.

      Things like ‘HD ready’ and ‘full HD’ really only apply to the display, rather than the tuner, which is why there’s a separate Freeview HD certification to cover the combination of the two.

      If someone actually said it would get Freeview HD then yes, it was misleading. But if they said it’s HD and it has Freeview , that’s slightly different.

      It is, of course, playing fast and loose with the public, knowing they lack the technical knowledge, BT legally stays just the right side of the line, I suspect

  5. I’m really getting fed up having to change channels when wanting to watch my local news programme look north to channel 101 this really should be sorted by now don’t you think as we have to pay an awful amount on TV license

    1. Unfortunately it’s quite a major undertaking to rejig all the studios and links to get everything in HD.

      Ultimately it’s a few minutes a day, so I guess as and when equipment has to be replaced they will make allowances for doing this.

      For what you get, I personally think the licence fee is very good value. The BBC will always be kicked by someone – imagine how much fun one of the anti BBC tabloids would have saying “BBC spends millions to upgrade for 15 minutes a day – which you could see just by changing channel”

  6. I have had HD on free view until the last changes having to retune and suddenly gone. I don’t live in apartment, no high buildings I’m in the countryside near chester Le street co durham

  7. Hi i baught a digihome tv with freeview in uk but using it in ghana. I retuned the digital channels and they all all came but when i tried watching it, i had a message (this video format is not supported). Please i need your help.

    1. I don’t know exactly what the DTT system is in Ghana, but I suspect you have bought an SD (standard definition) box, rather than an HD one. SD Freeview boxes don’t support the H.264 codec (video format), but HD ones do. And if Ghana is using H.264, and the box you have doesn’t support it, that would explain the message you’re seeing.

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