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What is Freeview?

A man watching television

From the end of 2012 all television in the UK will be switched over to digital, so you may need new equipment to watch it.. Freeview is one digital option and offers all the BBC TV and radio you currently watch - and more.

WebWise Team | 10th October 2012

eview is an easy way to receive free digital TV channels, plus radio and interactive services, through your existing television aerial.

How to receive it

You don’t need a cable or a satellite dish - the small box that you buy to receive Freeview simply plugs into your existing aerial. Some new televisions already have the Freeview receiver built into the television so you don’t even need a box, you just plug it in.

When you turn the box on for the first time, it should automatically tune itself and then present you with an on-screen programme guide with channel, programme and listing information. It is from here that you can select a channel or radio station.

How much it costs

Freeview has no contract and you just make a one-off payment for the box. So, once you have paid for the box there are no more monthly bills.

But before you buy a box you need to make sure that Freeview is available in your area. You can do this by entering your house number and postcode into the ‘Coverage Checker’ on the Freeview website.

There are also Freeview boxes available which have built-in recorders so you can record programmes directly onto memory in the box and watch them when you want to.

What’s on it

You can receive more than 40 free TV channels, plus interactive features via the red button, and more than 20 radio stations - all transmitted through your normal TV aerial.

You get all the BBC's digital TV and radio channels (included in your licence fee) as well as your five existing terrestrial TV channels.

Freeview is always evolving, new channels and features are being added to the service. For an up-to-date list of channels use the Freeview channels list.

Freeview is also available in High Definition, but you need to check whether you can receive HD in your area, and you’ll need a Freeview HD box (this differs from a standard Freeview box) and a television that displays HD pictures.

Retuning your box

New channels are launched on Freeview from time to time, along with other updates to the service. So you may need to retune your digital box every couple of months to make sure you are up to date.

Some digital boxes automatically retune but most have to be retuned manually. The process is straightforward but varies slightly between boxes from different manufacturers. For more information on retuning, take a look at the Freeview retune help web page.

It's also worth remembering that there are other forms of free digital television available, including Freesat and online catch-up services such as iPlayer, Channel 4's 4OD and ITV Player.

The WebWise 'W'

WebWise Team

WebWise was first launched in 1998 and since then has helped people of all ages to learn about and love the internet.