Why Am I Missing TV Channels & Services? Freeview - BT Vision - Youview

September 8, 2018
by
Tom Smart
Missing TV Channels on Freeview

Missing TV Services & Channels On Freeview, BT Vision & TalkTalk TV

 

There are lots of potential reasons why you may be missing some Freeview services and receiving others perfectly fine. In this blog we will discuss many potential reasons as to why this is and hopefully get to the bottom as to why you’re are missing some Freeview services. Many of the reasons discussed in this blog can also apply to other TV packages like BT Vision, TalkTalk TV and TV in other countries than the UK where this being written from. Like Soarview in Ireland for instance.

 

But before I start, I used to put this message at the end of my blogs, but I appreciate that people don’t always make it to the end and find the comments section. Some of our blogs are over 5000 words long so it can take some time to read through it all. If you have any questions, or just want some technical help please LEAVE A COMMENT at the end of the blog rather than filling out a contact form or calling our business numbers. This just ensures that everyone reading the blog gets the benefit of the question asked and the answer given and to be honest I don’t have the ability to answer all the questions that come in otherwise. Please also see our Youtube channel for more helpful videos. That being said if you want to discuss an installation or quote in East Sussex, southern Kent and parts of Surrey please do get in touch.

 

Why Am I Missing Some Freeview Channels?

 

Let’s begin!

 

1-      You’re Receiving Your TV Services From A Freeview Lite / Freeview Light Transmitter

 

You may be asking What is Freeview Light? This is a reduced version of Freeview which only transmits the public service broadcasts which are around half of the full Freeview service. There are many reasons why this may be, but I recommend that you click the link above to find out more. If you live in a Freeview Light TV area or are receiving your TV from a Freeview transmitter you will be missing popular services like Dave, Pick, Quest, Spike, Movies For Men and many of the +1’s to name but a few.

 

If you are using a Freeview Lite transmitter hope is not lost altogether. The Southcliff Tower or Eastbourne transmitter which is a local relay transmitter serving a relatively small audience recently underwent an upgrade as part of the 5G engineering works which sees that it now offers nearly all of the Freeview services. Whereas it only broadcast Freeview Lite since it first started broadcasting digital TV services since the digital switch-over in 2012. To be honest I never expected this to happen, I never heard about it in any of the aerial and satellite news sources that I follow like the CAI and Digital UK. I just discovered it when I was out installing an aerial one day. I’m not saying that this will happen to the transmitter that you’re using if you’re receiving Freeview Lite but up until this date I told people when asked that in all honesty I never thought that this was going to happen and would suggest another option for getting the extra services from Freeview which leads to my nest suggestion.

 

Another option which may be available to you is to re-align your TV aerial to another transmitter near your area that offers a full Freeview service. This may be slightly weaker in your location but may otherwise offer a perfectly reliable TV reception. Just a word of warning, sometimes it isn’t as easy as just turning a TV around, there is much more to it than that. The aerial polarisation will probably need to be adjusted, your aerial may not be suitable for the other transmitter and may even not be compatible – especially grouped TV aerials. So be prepared when employing a professional TV aerial installer to do this for you that you may require a new aerial, like a high gain version to deal with the weaker TV signals. You may also require amplification or some sort of TV aerial system adjustment to make things work properly and to retune all your TV sets now receiving signals from the new transmitter. So, what may seem like a 30-minute job could in fact take a few hours. I’m saying that it will, but it could. You should also try to filter out your old transmitter from the system as this is likely to still be drifting in fairly strong and could cause problems, particularly with wrong TV services being stored in the tuning process which themselves could break up and pixelate.

 

2-      Your Transmitter Doesn’t broadcast all the Freeview Services

 

I know that this is very similar to number 1 – receiving TV from a Freeview Light TV transmitter but it isn’t necessarily the same. It’s worth noting that currently a full Freeview service is comprised of 8 groups of channels. These are called multiplexes and their current names are: PSB1, PSB2, PSB3, COM4, COM5, COM6, COM7 & COM8 plus many transmitters like the Crystal Palace transmitter in London and the Whitehawk Hill transmitter in Brighton also offer an extra multiplex with local TV services on it. The multiplexes PSB 1-3 are what is considered a Freeview Lite service, but many transmitters do not offer some of the other multiplexes, particularly COM7 & COM8. I think it’s obvious if you’re missing London Local TV and you’re in Wales that it’s because the transmitter is not broadcasting it. But if notice that you’re missing many of the HD services like BBC4 HD, Al Jazeera HD, Channel 4+1 HD & other services like 5USA+1, CBS Drama that you are receiving your TV from a transmitter that doesn’t broadcast these services.

 

For instance, in my area of East Sussex the main transmitter for the area is the Heathfield transmitter and most of the other transmitters are relays served from the main transmitter, these include both Hastings & Hastings Old Town transmitters, both Eastbourne transmitters & the Bexhill transmitter. As Heathfield doesn’t transmit the COM7 & COM8 multiplexes you can’t receive the services on here through Freeview regardless what transmitter you use. I have on occasion when installing aerials around certain parts of Hastings where I would normally either use the Hastings transmitter or the Dover transmitter to instead align the antenna to the Bluebell Hlll transmitter to get the extra services. This really does very from region to region whether this is possible and it’s also worth noting that at the time of writing this that there are huge movement and alteration of TV services and transmitters owing the introduction of 5G mobile internet services, which itself can cause poor TV reception.

3-      You Do Not Have A Freeview HD Compatible TV

 

I can see where this next part can become really confusing to people as it seems to have been created by those who craft political & legal jargon. Freeview & Freeview HD are two complete separate things. They both use different broadcasting techniques, compressions and standards. Just because you have a digital TV that is also full HD is doesn’t mean that it is compatible with Freeview HD. Are you still with me?

 

Freeview broadcasts on a standard called DVB-2 which uses a compression technique called MPEG-2, whereas Freeview HD broadcasts on a standard called DVB-T2 and uses a compression technique called MPEG-4. Now it doesn’t really matter if you understand the difference but a way I describe to my customers and clients is to think of the two as two completely different language sets, which what they really are in code. For you TV to broadcast either they need to be able to understand the language, for example old type analogue style TV’s and digital TV’s. The first digital TV’s could understand DVB-T but not DVB-T2, so modern TV’s with the Freeview HD branding should be considered bi-lingual. If you are buying a new TV, chances are that the TV you’re purchasing is.

 

In order to receive the HD services on Freeview you need a Freeview HD TV. To confuse things even further some of the other services like Film4+1, which is the +1 channel for Film4 are broadcast on the Freeview HD standard, so you will need a Freeview HD compatible TV to receive it, even though it isn’t in High Definition. Going forward in time I believe more and more services will move to the DVB-T2 standard and MPEG 4 compression as it is a far more efficient compression technique and requires far less bandwidth to broadcast on, meaning that they can more services in a smaller space freeing up more room for things like 4G and 5G mobile internet. This is also why High Definition services use this standard, its not because HD is not compatible with DVB-T but because all the extra information required to make a High Definition picture requires more broadcasting space and bandwidth, hence a more efficient compression technique to get all the information in. The same is true with satellite TV and the DVB-S and DVB-S2 standards with services like Fransat which is like a French version of Freesat recently moving their entire TV services to the DVB-S2 standard. This meant that all subscribers needed to purchase a new or up to date set to box.

 

Just for fun if you’re wondering what the initials stand for. DVB stands for Digital Video Broadcast, the T & S stands for Terrestrial & Satellite respectively and MPEG stands for the Moving Pictures Expert Group.

 

4-      Strong Signal On Some TV Channels & Weak On Others

 

As each of the multiplexes (groups of TV channels) broadcast of different frequencies and from transmitters which broadcast these at differing strengths. It possible to receive some services perfectly fine with no picture break up or pixilation and others offer very poor reception or no picture at all. People get confused when BBC1 doesn’t work but BBC1 HD works fine, or vice versa but it really is quite simple when you understand. I will start with differing broadcast strengths.

 

TV Transmitters Broadcasting Some Services Strong And Others Weaker

 

The TV transmitter you’re using will almost certainly be broadcasting TV channels & services are different strengths these are usually broadcast in Kilowatts or Watts. The larger the transmitter, with the biggest service area and audience will broadcast strongest and smaller local transmitters broadcasting in significantly weaker strengths. This means that when you are very close to a local TV transmitter you could receive a very strong TV signal but the further you install your TV aerial or antenna away from the transmitter the quicker the TV signal will drop in strength when compared to a main transmitter broadcasting at a stronger strength.

 

The “main” TV services like the services in the PSB1-3 multiplexes which includes channels like BBC1, BBC2, ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5 are usually broadcast at the strongest strength with others sometimes weaker. Using the Crystal Palace again as a reference, most of the services are broadcast are 200,000W or 200KW. But the COM7 & COM8 multiplexes are broadcast at a meagre in comparison 43,100W for COM7 & 39,800W for COM8. Which is around 5 times weaker! Local TV services like Local & London Live are broadcast weaker still at 20,000W which is around one tenth of the strength. This could be the reason why some of your services are working fine and others are not. If you think that this is the case and want to check the broadcasting strength of the transmitter that you’re using I recommend the UK Free TV website. I regularly use it to find information of transmitters that I only rarely use like when I’m being dragged out of my area for aerial installations. If you do find that some of the services that you are struggling to receive are being broadcast at a considerable weaker strength. Do not despair as something can usually done with your TV system to improve to reception levels of the weaker TV services like the installation of a higher gain TV aerial or the installation of a masthead amplifier. I have delivered successful reception from the COM7, COM8 and local TV services from the Crystal Palace transmitter as far afield as Frant near Tunbridge Wells & Tenterden in Southern Kent and reception can still be receiving even further away.

 

Different Frequencies Giving Stronger & Weaker TV Reception

 

As the TV signals and multiplexes are being broadcast on different frequencies you can receive these are different strengths at your TV aerial, even if these are being broadcast at different strengths. There are loads of reasons why this can be. One of the main reasons this is because frequencies can behave very differently when meeting with obstructions between you and the transmitter, even a small frequency change can make a huge difference in the TV reception levels. This means that things like buildings and even the way the land lies near your property can make little to no difference on some TV services and completely ruin others. This is particularly evident with trees and can even change over time with some of the channels previously receiving good reception then receiving weaker reception at a later date as the trees grow, move and leaf. I described a story where this had occurred in my previous blog, Why Is My TV Aerial Not Working?

 

TV System & Aerial Type Effecting Some Services & Not Others

 

There are actually things in your TV aerial system & the way that it has been installed that can make some TV services unreliable and others not. It could be the type of aerial you have installed. If you were not already aware some aerials can’t be used on some transmitters because of the frequencies, they are designed to receive. These are called grouped aerials are only receive a small proportion of the UHF frequency band and are only designed for use with the same aerial band. Which begs the question if my aerial is not compatible with the transmitter you’re using why was it installed in the first place? Or why has my TV aerial suddenly stopped working?

 

Of course, the aerial may have originally been installed in error but more than likely it is to do with frequency changes. Going back only a few years the main frequency bands of use were the A band, B Band & C/D Band but others existing like the K band and E band. As almost the entire C/D group band has now been lost for 4G and 5G. So many TV transmitters that used to use the Group C/D will now use the lower group B band. In my area this has affected the Heathfield, Dover & Whitehawk Hill transmitters and means that many of the group C/D aerials that were installed to receive signals from these transmitters may not be up to the job anymore.

 

I will use the Heathfield transmitter as a more detailed explanation. Prior to the digital switchover in 2012 the Heathfield transmitter used to broadcast on UHF channels 49, 52, 64 & 67 for analogue TV services BBC1/2, ITV & Channel 4. It never did get Channel 5! Which is frequencies between 698Mhz-842Mhz so a Group C/D Aerial which is designed for reception between UHF channels 48-68 which is 690Mhz-850Mhz, meaning that this used to be a very good choice of TV aerial for reception from the Heathfield transmitter. This changed after the digital switchover when the four analogue services were replaced with 6 digital multiplexes. These used UHF channels 41,42,44,47,49,52 and frequency band between 634Mhz-732Mhz. The PSB multiplexes were sited on UHF channels 47,49 & 52 so this make little to know difference to the reception levels received with a CD aerial. Even with the HD multiplex being sited on UHF channel 47 and slightly outside the scope of the CD aerial. In practice this made little to no difference to the signal strength received as it was still very close frequency but the further you move away from the frequency band of C/D aerial the greater the effect on the frequency response and signal strength. Often this meant poor signal strength being received, particularly the TV services using UHF channels 41 & 42. A further twist of the dagger occurred on the 19th July when the Heathfield transmitter moved all of its services to UHF channels 40,41,43,44, 46 & 47 to make way for LTE & 5G services, which means that all the services are now being broadcast on frequencies between 626Mhz-682Mhz and every single service is now being broadcast outside of the group C/D band and a group C/D aerial can potentially offer good reception on some of the channels closest to the C/D and poor signals on those further away. If you have an aerial installed in the last 15 years, chances are it wouldn’t be a Group C/D band but if you have one and are using a transmitter no longer the C/D band frequencies it will be a good idea to get it replaced.

 

5-      Interference

 

There are loads of types of potential interference about and some of it will can only affect some TV services and not others. This really is a bit complex issue and perhaps one of the most skilled part of installing TV’s aerials is successfully removing Interference from TV systems.

 

Co-channel interference is when another TV transmitter that is broadcasting on some of the same frequencies, is also received by your TV aerial at the same time that the services you are trying to receive. Depending on the strength of the interfering co-channel signal this can completely ruin your TV reception. Sometimes the co-channel interference will only be on some of the services you’re receiving so others may not be affected by the interfering signals. This effect is often multiplied in periods of high pressure atmospheric weather conditions which usually accompanies hot weather in which TV signals actually reach a greater distance. In my area in the South East of the UK it is not uncommon to have co-channel interference from countries like France, Germany and Holland in periods of high pressure on some transmitters.

 

Another effect that can cause some TV channels & services to become unreliable and not others is harmonic relationships. This is where an interfering frequency usually ‘X’ distance away can cause interference on another frequency. There are loads of differing harmonics to be aware of regarding TV reception. I will write another blog at a later date discussing these but to help you for now. If you can imagine one radio wave bouncing through the air, then another of similar strength bouncing at a different frequency. Between the peaks of one bouncing wave you could have the other peaking at the same time which itself creates an interfering frequency. This is kind of how the harmonic interference works. Fortunately, unlike co-channel interference it’s usually easy to get rid of by filtering out the original unwanted frequency and “cleaning up the signal”.

 

6-      Faulty TV Aerial & Low Signal

 

This one seems obvious but an explanation as to why you are receiving some TV services and not others is because your TV aerial is simply faulty or not receiving enough signal. I’m not going to go into all the potential reasons as why this could be as there is so much information in our other blogs ‘Why Does My TV Picture Pixelate?’ and ‘Why Is My TV Aerial Not Working?

 

It will help you however to understand this is to be familiar with the “Cliff Effect”. This is the literal threshold between good TV reception and poor TV reception where you occur signal loss and pixilation. As digital TV under fault conditions just becomes completely unwatchable it explains “The Cliff Effect”. You are either on the edge of the cliff (good TV picture) or you are falling off the edge (bad TV picture). It’s our job as professional aerial engineers to get you as far away from the cliff edge as possible. So, in theory you could have an absolute awful TV signal that when looking at the picture all looks fine, think of this like dangling over the side of the cliff but still on the cliff. What’s more some of the multiplexes that you are receiving TV services would be over the cliff and some may be on the cliff. This would explain why some TV services would work fine and others would not work at all. I have lost count the amount of times that I have been told that the aerial signal is perfect on some channels and is very poor on others. Only to test the aerial signal and find that there is next to no signal on all of the channels. Often you find that when investigating further that the TV isn’t even connected to an aerial and it’s just a bit of signal being picked up by the coax cable or fly-lead.

 

Of course, if you have an indoor aerial this again could be the problem. You may want to move the aerial about to find the best signal on all the channels or if not possible. Find a spot where you can maximise the performance on certain channels. This will take a bit of trial and error if you do not have anything to test the incoming TV aerial signal with. Some TV’s do have in built signal strength readings which you could use to help you with this, but beware these are not the most sophisticated and can only tell you very little. It also helps sometimes to install the aerial as high in the room as possible and near windows and the signals enter through the windows easier than they do through the walls. All this being said, you would get a far greater TV reception from a proper TV aerial or antenna installed high up outside your property.

 

Information On Missing Specific Freeview Service

 

This is information on most likely reasons why you may be missing certain services. This is the most likely explanation and should not be taken as the gospel truth.

 

Why Can I Not Receive Dave On Freeview?

 

It could be that you are using a TV transmitter which only broadcasts Freeview Lite. I recommend checking that you’re TV transmitter is actually broadcasting Dave before committing to any TV Aerial repairs.

 

Why Can I Not Receive Film4+1 On Freeview?

 

If you can receive Film 4 perfectly fine on your TV but not the +1 version. There is a good chance that your TV is not a Freeview HD compatible model. I recommend checking your TV specifications to see if it is. If it isn’t then you will need a new compatible TV or a new compatible set top box.

 

Missing TV Services On BT Vision, Youview & TalkTalk TV

 

As BT Vision, Youview & TalkTalk TV al use Freeview terrestrial TV the majority of the live TV services. Any of the reasons already previously mentioned would in fact also affect these services, with the exception being the subscription-based internet services and catch up TV which both use your internet connection which could be slow. If your internet-based services are performing poor you may want to consider hard wiring your set top box with a dedicated ethernet cable to maximise the speed between to the set top box. If this is still running slow you may want to contact your internet service provider to see if they can upgrade your subscription for greater internet speeds.

 

That’s it for this blog, as always if you have any questions I will be delighted to try and answer them. Please LEAVE A COMMENT in the comments section directly beneath this blog and I will get back to you in the soonest.

 

Until next time.

 

Tom

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