Planning to watch some TV during this week? There’s bad news for Freeview viewers, as millions across the country could potentially suffer from disruption to their TV reception, due to the weather conditions.
The reason for all this? Yes, the weather – and upcoming high-pressure conditions. The good news? This is only a temporary situation.
The original warning from Freeview was for the previous weekend – but with weather conditions remaining the same, the warning has now been extended, and reception issues could last until June 1, 2023.
Affected homes could lose some of the Freeview channels they’re normally able to watch, with some extreme cases potentially losing Freeview reception altogether.
In light of this, Freeview has issued a warning (and there’s even an instructional video from the BBC), on what you should NOT do if this affects you this weekend (see full details below).
Read on for some advice on alternative ways to watch some of your favourite Freeview channels, if this issue affects you.
Freeview And High Air Pressure Disruptions
Freeview, which has been around since 2002, provides TV channels and radio stations over the air.
The main way to get the free channels is via an aerial (see the ones we recommend), and a Freeview box (see our recommendations) connected to that aerial and to your TV (or simply connect an aerial to your TV – most support Freeview, but don’t usually offer recording capabilities).
But why is Freeview affected by the weather?
Freeview transmits signals over the air from various transmitter stations across the country. These signals are captured by the aerial connected to your Freeview box or TV, enabling you to watch the channels available in your area.
However, these over-the-air signals can be influenced by a variety of factors, including atmospheric conditions such as high air pressure.
Under normal conditions, the signals travel in a straight line from the transmitter to your aerial. But when high-pressure weather systems set in, these signals can behave differently.
High-pressure systems often bring clear skies and calm weather but also cause an atmospheric phenomenon known as “temperature inversion”.
In a temperature inversion, a layer of warmer air sits above a layer of cooler air, creating a “lid” that traps the cool air underneath.
This change in temperature gradient affects the way radio waves travel through the atmosphere. Instead of moving in a straight line, the signals can get bent or “refracted” by the inversion layer, causing them to travel further than they usually would.
This can result in signals from distant transmitters interfering with the ones from your local transmitter.
With Freeview, you might pick up signals from multiple transmitters, including far-away ones. When these signals overlap, they can interfere with each other, leading to pixelation, loss of some channels, or even total loss of reception.
Thankfully, these disruptions are usually temporary, and your service should return to normal once the weather conditions change.
Last year, the BBC released a helpful video, hosted by Matt Taylor from BBC Weather, that explains why high pressure weather conditions can affect Freeview reception on your TV:
Important: Do Not Retune Freeview This Weekend
When there are issues with reception and channels, Freeview viewers are often advised to try and retune their devices. But that’s not the case this time – in fact, it’s the opposite.
According to Freeview and the BBC, viewers are strongly advised NOT to retune their Freeview devices as long as the situation prevails, even if your reception goes bad – as then you’ll have to retune yet again once the problem is resolved.
If you do happen to do a retune, there isn’t much you can do at that point other than wait until May 29, when the high-pressure conditions are supposed to pass – and then, you should retune again.
You can find more information on how to retune your device, in Freeview’s retuning help section.
What Can I Watch If My Freeview Channels Are Down?
If you can’t get some (or all) Freeview channels properly, you can still watch SOME of the channels via broadband.
If you have a Freeview Play device that’s connected to the internet, such as the Manhattan T-3R, Humax Aura, or a Freeview Play TV, you can watch the streaming versions of the main broadcast channels, via apps like BBC iPlayer, ITVX, Channel 4, etc.
Alternatively, you can watch Freeview via the mobile app which is available to download for free (though keep in mind, the app can only help you watch Freeview Play channels that have their own apps on your phone – so again, BBC iPlayer, ITVX and the other big broadcasters).
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