Angry Freeview Viewers Are Missing Channels Following Retune

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Freeview viewers across several UK regions are saying some of their channels have disappeared, following planned engineering work that took place this week. Youview customers in the relevant areas are similarly impacted.

While a retune usually solves these types of issues – this time, some viewers are not getting their channels back even after repeated retunes, and Freeview says some people might need to replace their aerials.

Established in 2002, Freeview is the UK’s digital terrestrial television platform. It provides access to more than 80 free-to-air TV channels and radio stations (See our full Freeview guide here).

Freeview Play channel 100

Yesterday (August 12), engineering work was done in north-west England, north-east Wales and Creetown in Scotland, as part of the “700MHz clearance programme”, where certain airwaves used by Freeview are being reallocated for mobile services. 

Earlier this year, we also reported that several Freeview channels had to be taken down, due to airwaves being repurposed for mobile data.

As part of the process, some existing Freeview channels are now being moved to different frequencies, resulting in the need to retune your Freeview receiver. According to Ofcom, 14-20 million home will eventually need to retune their Freeview receivers.

However, following the work done this week, many viewers in the affected areas took to social media to complain that even after a retune – some of their favourite Freeview channels failed to return.

In response, Freeview has been urging people to first try and retune – and if that doesn’t work, contact the Freeview Advice Line on 0808 100 0288.

Unfortunately, due to the number of people being affected, the support line is experiencing high call volumes. 

Do You Need To Replace Your Aerial?

While a retune might be sufficient for many of the affected Freeview viewers, for some – it just won’t be enough, as their aerials might be too old.

Man repairing outdoor roof aerial antenna 800

When the entire clearance process is done, Ofcom is stating that up to 160,000 homes would need to replace their aerials, and a further 40,000-110,000 would need to have their current aerials re-aligned. Both of these actions usually require a visit from an engineer. 

According to Freeview, some viewers may also need to install a filter behind their TV, to prevent interference once new mobile services launch.

What Should I Do If I’m Missing Freeview Channels?

If you live in one of the areas where work was done this week (north-west England, north-east Wales and Creetown in Scotland), you should first try to retune your Freeview receiver.

Some devices do this automatically, while others need a manual retune.

According to Freeview, most viewers find retuning straightforward, and you can get more information on how to retune your device (depending on whether you have a Freeview TV or a set-top Freeview box), on Freeview’s retuning help section.

Keep in mind that if you have a Freeview recorder, then after a retune you might need to re-schedule some of your future recordings.

If, following the retune, you’re still missing Freeview (or YouView) channels that were available to you up until this week – you might have to replace or realign your aerial.

You can try to use an indoor TV aerial first, but those only work in areas and houses where reception is decent.

If all else fails, you should contact the Freeview support service, as they can help you identify the problem and decide whether you actually need a new aerial – but you would have to wait for their phone lines to clear.

Freeview’s Response

A Freeview spokesperson said:

“Required changes to Freeview signals at some transmitters in the north west of England, north east Wales and Creetown yesterday were completed as planned and services are broadcasting as expected.

“Viewers still missing channels after retuning can call the Freeview Advice Line free on 0808 100 0288, where our team will be happy to help.”

Regarding the potential aerial issues, Freeview told us that “Some older aerials may need to be replaced to continue receiving all available channels. Viewers may be eligible for free in-home support, including an aerial assessment.

“Most aerials should continue to work fine following the required updates in these areas. However, if retuning doesn’t bring channels back viewers should contact the Freeview Advice Line for assistance. We recommend viewers use a wideband rooftop aerial.”