National upgrade for Freeview digital TVRemember to retune your Freeview tomorrow

29 September 2009

Viewers of digital TV service Freeview must retune their Freeview equipment after tomorrow lunchtime if they want to keep getting all their TV channels.

Even if you get the full range of channels now, you must retune all your Freeview set top boxes or digital TVs to make sure you continue to receive all channels available to you including Five. 

What is Freeview?

Freeview is a subscription-free digital TV service. There is no monthly charge, but to watch Freeview you need a digital set top box or an integrated digital TV (IDTV) with built-in set-top box.

We rate the latest Freeview set top boxes in the Which? review of Freeview and Freesat set top boxes with Best Buys from around £40. Or to find a Which? Best Buy IDTV, check out the Which? review of the best LCD and plasma TV models.

Why must I retune Freeview?

The Freeview upgrade includes preparations for the future availability of high definition (HD) channels on Freeview, however you won't be able to use your existing Freeview equipment to watch HD on Freeview. Instead you'll need to buy a new Freeview HD set top box.

Freeview HD set top boxes are not yet available but are expected to come on the market in the next few months. However even if you get a Freeview HD set top box you won't be able to access Freeview HD until Digital Switchover takes place where you live.

As we explain in the Which? guide to digital switchover explained, some areas of the UK have already completed the switch to digital TV. But for some regions, including London, digital switchover will not happen until between 2010 and 2012.

If you can't wait until then to watch HD programmes the Which? guide to high-definition TV explained compares HD services from Sky, Virgin and Freesat which are available now.

Changes to existing Freeview channels

As well as preparing for HD on Freeview, the changes may affect some of the standard channels that are available to you:

  • Coverage of Five will increase. More than 500,000 Freeview homes will be able to receive Five for the first time; and these improvements will ensure that Five will be available to all Freeview homes at the point of switchover; along with BBC One, BBC Two, ITV1 and Channel 4.
  • Some viewers will no longer be able to receive ITV3 and ITV4. As a result of moving position on the Freeview platform, a small percentage of homes will find they lose these services after returning.
  • A new channel called 'Quest' will launch on channel 38 on Freeview. It will be available to the majority of Freeview homes.

When should I retune?

All changes to Freeview's service will take place during the morning tomorrow (Wednesday 30th September). Changes are expected to be complete by lunchtime tomorrow.

All Freeview boxes, Freeview+ digital TV recorders and digital TVs can be retuned at any point after this. There's no time limit on when you have to retune by, but until you do so you may be missing certain channels.

Don't retune your Freeview before lunchtime tomorrow as you may find that even if the channel or service name appears in the on-screen TV guide, the channel itself will not be available or may have been moved to a temporary location.

How do I retune my Freeview?

Instructions for retuning your Freeview equipment should be included in your manufacturers handbook.

If you need any help retuning your Freeview equipment Freeview has provided the following website to download easy-to-follow retuning guides or call their automated helpline on 08456 05 11 22 between 8am and 10pm on weekdays and 10am and 8pm at weekends.

For more information about Freeview check out our Which? guide to Freeview and Freesat digital TV.

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