Northern Ireland undergoes biggest TV retune since switchover


Viewers across Northern Ireland will need to retune Freeview during Wednesday, following engineering work to prepare for future 5G services.

In the biggest retune event to hit Northern Ireland since the digital switchover in 2012, the frequencies used for some TV channels will be changed overnight and early Wednesday morning. It's part of a UK-wide Government-backed scheme to free up TV frequencies for future 5G services.


For the first time, some areas will gain access to Irish public service channels RTÉ One, RTÉ 2 and TG4.

Ahead of the change, there will be a period of time during the early hours of Wednesday when Freeview channels will be off-air. From breakfast time onwards, viewers will be invited to retune to restore any missing channels. But viewers who can only receive a small number of channels via Freeview because they receive their TV signal from a relay, may need to wait until the afternoon to retune.

The exact number of channels affected will vary from transmitter to transmitter, but the changes will also affect users with BT TV, TalkTalk TV, EE TV or Plusnet TV, as all of these services use the Freeview signal for part of their service.

At the Divis transmitter, which serves much of the Belfast area, some commercial channels including Yesterday, DMAX and CBS Justice will be affected alongside HD channels including BBC News HD and BBC Four HD. Belfast's local channel NVTV will also be moving to a new frequency. Freesports, PBS America and Forces TV will be among the channels available on newer Freeview devices that will be moving frequencies, too.

Older aerials in use in the Belfast area may no longer receive some of the HD channels following the change - so-called Group T wideband aerials are recommended for installers.

In the North West, all channels are moving frequencies, meaning a retune is unavoidable.

In the South West, most major channels will change frequencies early on Wednesday.

At part of the same process, the number of transmitters in Northern Ireland carrying RTÉ One, RTÉ 2 and TG4 will increase from three to eight, ensuring that viewers can continue receiving the channels despite the frequency changes, which may make overspill reception more difficult in some areas. It will also increase the reach of these channels within Northern Ireland, especially in the Belfast area, where the main Divis transmitter will join the Black Mountain and Carnmoney Hills transmitters in carrying the channels.

Viewers who are having difficulties retuning are being advised to contact Freeview.

The Freeview website includes links to retuning help videos and information about the support available, which may include a visit from an aerial installer, if the household doesn't already have satellite or cable television.

Alternatively, the Freeview Advice Line can be contacted on 0800 100 0288.

  • For those needing information about UHF channel numbers, e.g. for manual tuning, the Digital UK coverage checker has full technical information for each postcode area at www.digitaluk.co.uk/coveragechecker