What is Freeview Lite/Light?

March 13, 2019
Tom Smart
A picture of the Freeview logo

What is Freeview Lite and why I only receive a limited number of channels?

Quite simply Free Lite is a reduced version of Freeview with significantly less TV stations than a full Freeview service. Freeview Lite is broadcast by local relay TV transmitters that pick up and re-transmit a signal from a main (or possibly another relay) transmitter and redistribute the signal on different frequencies to homes that couldn’t pick up the first main transmitter. This is usually because there is something substantial in the way, like a big hill, building or group of trees.


There is one big reason why you can only receive a limited number of TV services on a Freeview Lite transmitter, it’s because this is all the transmitter broadcasts!


There are several reasons behind why you can only receive a limited number of TV stations, to be honest I can’t 100% say one way or another all I can do it say from an experts point of view why I believe this is so, but I suspect it’s a combination of reasons.


1) There’s no space for the channels.

With more a more being pumped wirelessly these days and a huge amount to fit with the spectrum or UHF (Ultra High Frequency). There simply isn’t enough room to squeeze all these extra services and this is getting worse. Since the release of 4G mobile broadband stole a sizeable chunk of the UHF and with further auctioning off of the UHF scheduled for around 2020 which will see even more space go. It’s doesn’t look promising whether Freeview Lite transmitters will ever broadcast all the services.


2) The Audience isn’t big enough.

All of the relay transmitters in the country all added up are said to only serve 5% of the country, off that 5% many would have Sky or no TV aerial at all (you would be surprised, good on them I guess) so the amount of people that will suffer with less channels as a result is quite small when compared to the population of the UK. For this reason and the cost to serve a small part of the country, I have heard that the commercial operators do not see this making financial sense, given the associated costs and these are exactly the channels you are missing.


3) Well it’s more than you did have isn’t it?

Part of the argument for these services never being added to the Freeview Lite transmitters in that even without these channels it’s more than you did have prior to the digital switchover when all you could receive was 4 or 5 analogue stations. So what are you moaning about type of position.


What can you do if you want to receive all the channels?


A lot of the time nearby transmitters that broadcast all the channels can also be received, these signals may be weaker but still useable so an aerial replacement as well as a re-alignment may be required. Amplifiers or “boosters” can be used to give the signal a kick in the right direction. For instance when I install aerials in Newhaven, Peacehaven or Seaford I will try to align the TV aerial to the Whitehawk transmitter in Brighton despite there being a transmitter on top of the hill in Newhaven. The goes for aerial installations in parts of Eastbourne such as Old Town and Meads, I will try and point the aerial to Heathfield and avoid the Eastbourne and Old Town transmitters.


Alternatively you could go to satellite. Sky or for those who don’t want to pay Freesat which is very similar to Freeview with a few channels difference. As geographic location within a single country has little of no effect to the expected signal levels it doesn’t matter where you are. Assuming you satellite dish can get a signal that is. More information can be found on Freesat here. http://smartaerials.co.uk/satellite/freesat


Finally and ever so slightly related. I always thought that the spelling was ‘Lite’ because it a reduced version of Freeview, like a low fat yoghurt for example. But lots of sites are saying “Light”.  Again to be honest I’m not 100% sure which is right but they are the exactly same thing.

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