There’s bad news for Freeview watchers this week – and the weather is to blame again: Freeview has issued a warning that a surge in atmospheric pressure could lead to significant service disruptions in the coming days.
If you rely on Freeview for your television and radio needs, you might experience a loss of channels or even a complete loss of reception, and many households across the UK could be affected.
According to Freeview’s latest announcement, the warning period for this current episode spans from today, September 4, through to Friday, September 8.
In light of this, Freeview also issued guidance on what you should and shouldn’t do in case you’re affected (see below).
Overall, it’s been a challenging summer for Freeview. As we reported last week, the popular Humax FVP-5000T Freeview Recorder has been discontinued. This follows the discontinuation of the Manhattan T3-R box and the delay of its next-generation model, the T4-R.
Understanding The Freeview Weather 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).
The Science Of Radio Wave Propagation
To understand why these recurring disruptions occur, we need to delve a little into the science of radio wave propagation.
Radio waves from television transmitters don’t just go in a straight line; they can be bent and reflected by the atmosphere.
High atmospheric pressure can cause what’s known as tropospheric ducting, where TV and radio signals are bent and can travel much further than they usually would.
A temperature inversion is then a key factor in this. Normally, as you ascend in the atmosphere, the air gets colder. However, during periods of high pressure, this pattern can be inverted, with a layer of warmer air forming above a layer of cooler air.
This can cause signals from distant transmitters to interfere with your local Freeview reception, and can even result in foreign stations appearing on your TV.
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.
Freeview Disruptions: From Ghostly Images To Total Loss
This phenomenon isn’t entirely predictable, so it’s hard to say exactly which areas will be most affected, but it’s possible that a significant number of Freeview users will experience some disruption.
This could range from a slight weakening of the signal, to the appearance of ghostly images from distant transmitters, or even a total loss of certain channels.
Thankfully, these disruptions are temporary, and your service should return to normal once the weather conditions change.
The BBC has a helpful video, hosted by Matt Taylor from BBC Weather, that explains why high pressure weather conditions can affect Freeview reception on your TV:
Do NOT Retune Freeview This Week
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, 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 the end of this week, 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.
Also, you can watch Freeview via the mobile app which is available to download for free (but 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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