TV reception problems

If there's something wrong with your digital or analogue TV picture or sound, it may be because of a fault with your TV, your aerial or some kind of interference. Find out the most common causes with our handy checklists.

Analogue TV

First things first, identify the cause of your reception problem. This will allow you to take the appropriate actions to get your TV viewing back on track.

  • Complete loss of reception
    Use the BBC's reception problem checker tool to see if your local transmitter is affected by maintenance work.
  • Digital switchover
    Much of the UK has now switched from analogue TV to digital. Use Digital UK's postcode checker to see when your area will go digital.
  • Are your neighbours having the same problem?
    A TV set connected to a different aerial (e.g. a neighbour's TV) will help you determine whether it's just your reception that's affected.
  • Loose connections
    Check that the leads at the back or your TV are properly connected and that plugs are secure.
  • Aerial issues
    Storms, strong winds and heavy rain can result in an aerial being broken or coming loose. If this is the case then it's best to call in a professional aerial engineer.
  • Weather woes
    Weather conditions can affect your TV reception, so when it's warm and fine with high air pressure you may find that your favourite programmes are affected.
  • Interference
    Electrical and radio interference can cause reception issues. Cordless/mobile phones, baby monitors, washing machines and other appliances can create interference that will affect your viewing.

Digital TV

With the digital switchover taking place many households are now receiving digital TV rather than analogue. Signal strength can vary, so if you're having reception issues with your digital channels there are some steps you can take to restore your favourite programmes to full health.

  • Reset
    In many cases resetting your set-top box will solve the problem. You can do this by pressing the reset button, or turning off the power at the wall socket for about 10 seconds.
  • Retune
    If a new channel (or one that has moved) is missing from your channel list, try retuning your set-top box. You can do this by following the manufacturer's instructions.

If this doesn't solve the problem and you have digital terrestrial TV (Freeview), check the BBC's reception problem checker tool to see if maintenance work is being carried out on your local transmitter.

Satellite TV

Satellite problems can be frustrating, particularly if your favourite programme is about to start! If your box isn't getting a decent signal you may notice the picture breaking up, pixellation, or that some channels can't be received.

Check the following to get your satellite TV back in business:

  • Dish alignment
    If you've recently had heavy winds or rain then the dish could have been knocked or blown out of alignment. Call a satellite engineer in for this problem.
  • Blocked signal
    The dish needs a clear line of sight to the satellite. Scaffolding, buildings, walls and even trees blocking the path to the satellite can cause interference.
  • Bad weather
    Heavy rain can affect your satellite TV reception. If high winds cause problems then dish may not be securely fixed. Call a satellite engineer to get the dish secured.
  • Check your cables
    Make sure that the feed is securely connected and that the cable from the dish to the back of your satellite receiver is undamaged.
  • LNB (Low Noise Block) problems
    If the LNB develops a fault then you'll probably experience lost channels or problems with polarisation. If you have a problem with your LNB then it may need to be replaced.

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