How Freeview viewers in SE Kent are about to find out if their TV aerial is OK



Viewers in south-east Kent, including Dover, Margate and Ashford, will need to retune from 10am on Thursday 22nd August. What they see next will determine if their household TV aerial needs upgrading or not.

It's part of a government-backed scheme to clear TV frequencies for future 5G services. But the number of frequencies available in the south-east is limited, due to heavy use of frequencies around London and co-channel interference from the near continent.

Following international negotiations, new frequencies have been found for the region, but many older TV aerials aren't optimised for the new, lower frequencies. Some aerials may already struggle to receive some services on lower frequencies, but these have generally only affected lower ranking channels that some households may not frequently watch.

As a result, viewers will be able to test to see if their aerial is suitable between the 22nd August and 16th October 2019, when the main BBC channels will be duplicated - once on the new frequency and once on the old.

Following a retune, viewers should see the main BBC TV channels and radio stations on their normal Freeview channel numbers  (e.g. channels 1,2,9,201, 202, 231,232) as well as on channels 751 - 777.


  • If after retuning, BBC One South East is only available on channel 751 and not on channel 1, viewers need to contact Freeview (details below) - as assistance, in the form of help with retuning a device and in worst-case scenarios a free aerial upgrade, is available to affected householders.
  • If after retuning, BBC One South East is found on both channel 1 and 751, and both can be received with a good signal level (i.e. no breaking up), no action to the aerial is needed ahead of the 16th October. But TVs and boxes will still need to be retuned on the 16th October in order to reinstate reception of most channels.

On 16th October, the remaining Freeview channels in the area will move to the new frequencies and the duplicate services on channel 751-777 will be switched off. At that point, anyone with an inadequate aerial is likely to lose services.

To assist viewers with their Freeview TV reception, a new single frequency network has been set up in the area. Beginning this week with the main BBC TV services, relays at Ashford (sited close to the railway station) and in Margate will form a new three-site network with Dover, filling in reception not-spots caused by the frequency change.

Then, in October, the remaining Freeview channels will begin broadcasting from Dover and the new single frequency network relays in Ashford and Margate. As a result, viewers who struggle to receive a signal from Dover after the frequency change can opt to have their aerial switched to point to one of the relays.

  • For assistance on the retune, visit https://www.freeview.co.uk/tvchanges or call the Freeview Advice Line on 0808 100 0288.
  • The support is being provided on behalf of the broadcasters and funding for new aerials is being carried by the mobile phone networks. Households who also have Sky, Freesat or Virgin Media do not qualify for assistance with their aerial.


FYI
Dover was once the TV transmitter with the greatest number of viewers: in analogue days, signals from their transmitter were received in East Dunkirk and relayed to households in the Netherlands and Belgium. A commercial arrangement ensured the BBC received payments from the cable companies that did this. Today, the signals are provided via satellite to cable heads. But at the end of October, BBC One and Two may go dark in the low countries following Brexit, when UK broadcasting licences can no longer be used to transmit abroad.



TECHNICAL INFORMATION

Freeview frequencies:
South-east Kent from 22nd August 2019:

Multiplex Name / UHF channel numbers
as broadcast from the Dover transmitter:

  • PSB-1 - BBC:  33*/** (new) and 50 (old)
  • PSB-2 - D3&4: 51**
  • PSB-3 - BBC: 53**
  • COM4 - SDN: 35
  • COM5 - Arqiva: 59
  • COM6 - Arqiva: 48

* also broadcast from Ashford
** also broadcast from Margate


South-east Kent from 16th October 2019:

Multiplex Name / UHF channel numbers
all of the following are broadcast from Dover, Ashford and Margate transmitters:

  • PSB-1 - BBC: 33
  • PSB-2 - D3&4: 35
  • PSB-3 - BBC: 36
  • COM4 - SDN: 39
  • COM5 - Arqiva: 42
  • COM6 - Arqiva: 48

On the 16th October, there will also be a frequency change at the Rye relay. COM4-6 will not be broadcast from this site:

  • PSB-1 - BBC: 40
  • PSB-2 - D3&4: 43
  • PSB-3 - BBC: 46