Tyne & Wear; County Durham Freeview users need to retune to check their aerial is OK

Viewers in parts of Tyne and Wear, County Durham and southern Northumberland have two months to test if their TV aerial is compatible with imminent frequency changes.

As part of a Government-backed programme to move terrestrial TV services in some parts of the country to new frequencies to make way for future 5G services, major changes are occuring this November across the North East.

To prepare for the change, the BBC has commenced dual transmission of its main TV channels from the Pontop Pike transmitter mast, near Consett, County Durham (pictured above).

The dual transmission of BBC services on old and new frequencies will give householders time to check if they need a new aerial, although the BBC channels will be getting a power boost to assist with reception issues.

Until November, BBC channels will be available on their normal Freeview channel numbers as well as on channels 751-777 after retuning.

Viewers in the area are officially being prompted to retune after 10am, Thursday 12th September 2019. This will involve all Freeview TVs and set-top-boxes. Users of YouView boxes for BT, Plusnet and TalkTalk TV are also affected.

How viewers can tell if they are affected

  • If, after retuning, you can see BBC channels on their usual positions (1, 2, 9 etc) as well as on channels 751, 752, 753 etc, then your aerial can receive services on the new frequencies. Retune again on 13th November when other Freeview channels are changing frequencies.
  • If you can receive both sets of BBC channels, but the versions of the BBC channels on 1 and 2 are blocky, frequently break up or produce a poor signal notification, while the versions on 751, 752 etc are fine, you have until 13th November to arrange for an engineer to fix your set-up. Call the Freeview Advice Line on 0808 100 0288.
  • If you can't receive anything on 1 or 2, but can receive something on 751 or 752, you have until 13th November to arrange for an engineer to fix your set-up. Call the Freeview Advice Line on 0808 100 0288.
  • If, after retuning you can see BBC services on 1 or 2, but not on 751, 752, then either you are not receiving your TV signal directly from Pontop Pike or you have not done a full retune - menu options on some devices such as "add new channels" or "scan for new channels" often don't trigger a full retune. On older devices, look for options such as "first time installation" to conduct a full retune.

Help and support
  • For assistance on the retune, visit https://www.freeview.co.uk/tvchanges or call the Freeview Advice Line on 0808 100 0288.
  • You can watch self-help retuning videos to help retune some of the most popular devices on the market via the Freeview website.
  • 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 free assistance with their aerial.

On 13th November 2019, Freeview frequency changes will take place across the whole of North East England, from North Yorkshire to the Scottish border. There will be no dual transmission periods outside of the Tyne and Wear/County Durham area, because the new frequencies being used elsewhere in the North East are closer to existing frequencies, so viewers are more likely to have compatible aerials.

Local aerial installers and landlords operating communal aerial systems have been briefed on the changes by Digital UK, the organisation responsible for overseeing digital terrestrial television in the UK.