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How can I improve the picture quality of Freeview?

How can I improve the picture quality of Freeview?

Dear Jon, I have a subscription to BT Vision but find that I canít watch all the channels that are available on Freeview. Why is this? Some of the channels also have a very bad picture - is there anything I can do to improve my signal?

Please help!

Mark Summertown, Norfolk, via email, Tuesday 27 April, 2010

Our digital TV expert says...

Dear Mark, thanks for your question about channel availability on BT Vision.

The bad news is that unfortunately, until the digital switchover is complete in 2012, not all areas in the UK will be able to receive every Freeview channel. To find out which channels are available in your area at the moment, you can use the online Freeview channel checker.

If you have a bad picture on a few channels but a good picture on others, itís likely that the problem is not with your BT Vision+ box, but with the aerial on your roof, or the way it is set-up. It is also worth checking whether transmitter engineering works are going on in your area, as this may affect the picture quality on some channels. You can see if there is anything being done to your nearest transmitter using the online checker on the UK Free TV website.

The good news is that you can normally fix poor picture quality with some simple tweaks. Below are some more tips on improving your TV signal, and some more information on whatís available via BT VisionÖ

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What is BT Vision?

BT Vision is the digital TV service available to BT Total Broadband customers. TV is delivered via a BT Vision set-top box that is connected to the TV aerial on your roof and to your BT broadband Home Hub. BT Vision subscribers have access to all the channels on Freeview, as well as on-demand content from BTís packages.

For more information on BT Vision, read our guide What is BT Vision?.

Checking Freeview signals on BT Vision

Freeview works by broadcasting multiple digital TV channels on six different frequencies, called multiplexes. If you have poor reception on one channel in the multiplex, itís likely that your signal will be similarly poor for the other channels in the same multiplex. To see a full list of each of the channels available in the different multiplexes, check out the tables on the Digital TV Group website.

If youíre experiencing bad picture quality, such as fuzziness, blocking or a rolling image, you should check your Freeview signal.

You can do this using your Vision+ box, though you should be aware that checking your signal will interrupt any recording that is in progress. Fortunately, you only need to check the signal of one channel in a multiplex to know what signal youíll be getting for the whole multiplex. Follow these steps to check your signal:

  1. Press the BT Vision button on your remote control
  2. Scroll across to Settings
  3. Select TV Settings
  4. Select the DTT Signal Strength page.

The minimum signal strength you need for a good picture is 55%, while the minimum signal quality is 70%. If you are experiencing anything less than this, try some of the tips below.

How can I improve my Freeview signal?

Here are a few things you can try to improve your TV signal:

  1. Check that the connector on your aerial cable is in good condition with no exposed wires or corrosion
  2. Look at your scart cable to check for worn parts and bent pins
  3. Check for any visible signs of damage to the cable between the aerial and your Vision+ box.

You should also try retuning your Vision+ box, by performing a channel scan. If the signal strength and quality are still below acceptable levels after carrying out a channel scan there could be a problem with your aerial set-up. Does the aerial on your roof point in the same direction as your neighboursí?

If youíre unsure about your aerial set-up, ask a professional aerial fitter for advice. BT Vision recommends GetDigitalNow, a national accredited aerial installation firm who offer a preferential service to BT Vision customers.

To contact GetDigitalNow, call 0800 043 5347.

I hope this gives you few pointers on how to improve the picture quality on your Freeview Mark. If youíre still experiencing bad pictures or want more channels than the ones you can receive at the moment, consider signing up to a subscription with a satellite TV provider like Sky. Satellite TV has over 98% UK coverage so itís a great choice for homes that canít receive all the Freeview channels.

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