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Digital Television

In 2012, Digital TV replaced analogue television in the ‘Digital Switchover’. In order to watch TV you will need a digital receiver, a satellite or cable TV service.

For more information on Digital Television, visit Digital UK

Benefits of having digital television

  • you will be able to get more television channels than the traditional five (BBC One, BBC Two, ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5);
  • you will be able to interact with some programmes, for example you may be able to view sports matches from a different angle, buy goods, or take part in opinion polls;
  • you can listen to digital radio stations through your television; and
  • digital television offers more special services for people with hearing and visual impairments.

You will not need to pay a monthly subscription to get Freeview digital television.


What is Freeview?

Freeview is the simple free way to enjoy 50 digital TV channels and 24 radio stations through your TV. If you have freeview box or a digital TV you can watch the Freeview channels at no cost.  You can also record your favourite shows with a Freeview plus recorder or watch up to 12 High Definition (HD) channels with Freeview HD.


How can I get Freeview?

You will need to ensure that your television equipment can receive digital signals. These can be received in one of four ways: through an aerial, with a satellite dish, by cable, or through a telephone line. The option that you choose depends partly on where you live. For more information on this, visit Digital UK, or ask your local retailer or supplier.

If you already watch more than five channels, your television is probably digital already. If not, you will need to choose what to do with your television set.

You have two choices. You can:

  • Simply convert your existing set. This is done by plugging a digital box (often called a ‘set top box’) into the back of your set.
  • Take the opportunity to buy a new television set. You can buy or rent a television set with a digital box built inside it. This is often called an ‘integrated digital TV’ or ‘iDTV’, which will let you receive the free digital television services through an aerial.

Please note that the majority of people will not need to buy a new television set because most current sets can be adapted, as detailed in the first choice above.

Recording your TV programmes

Video or DVD recorders

If you have a video or DVD recorder you will still be able to use it to record Freeview programmes, unless you want to record one programme while watching another. Then you will need to buy a digital television recorder.

Digital Recorders

You can now buy a digital recorder box which works like a video recorder but you can watch something else whilst recording another programme. You can also pause and rewind live TV if you miss something. You can set it to record the entire series so you never miss an episode of your favourite show. There is no subscription charge for this the Freeview+ box. Ask your local retailer for more information.

How much does it cost?

Freeview is free to watch and record if you have a digital enabled TV.

If you would like more channels, you can pay for an additional subscription or internet connected services, such as Youview or BT Vision. Some of these services will include a catch up television allowing you to watch programmes from the last 7 days.

Retuning your TV

Occasionally you may need to retune your TV when watching Freeview as and when the service is upgraded. A message usually appears on your screen instructing you how to do so when this is needed.

Other Useful Information

  • Digital UK is an independent, non-profit organisation that has been set up to provide impartial information on what people need to do to prepare for the digital switchover, and when they need to do it.
  • RNIB (Royal National Institute of Blind People) has information on Digital TV equipment and a handy checklist to help decide what equipment is right for you If you are visually impaired. For more information please visit
  • Freeview (Digital TV) provides free-to-air digital TV channels, radio stations and interactive services through an aerial.
  • helps to ensure that viewers who rely on Freeview for TV can continue to receive it, or are offered a suitable alternative, when 4G mobile services at 800 MHz are activated in their area.

Last updated: March 18, 2021