All Australians should generally be able to receive free-to-air television, either terrestrially or via satellite (if terrestrial coverage is not available), provided they have the correct receiving equipment. TV broadcasters provide this service, with support from the Australian Government.
The most common cause of poor TV reception is that thing on the roof—your antenna. An antenna that’s poorly maintained, broken or incorrectly installed is likely to be behind your reception problems.
Following the switchover to digital TV and the consequent retune, now’s a good time to check if your antenna system is in the right shape and form, especially if it’s been exposed to harsh weather over a long period. Digital TV means a host of new channels should be available in your area, so make sure your antenna isn’t coming between you and good reception!
If you have the right equipment—what’s technically called an ‘optimised television receiving installation’—you’ll be much less susceptible to reception problems.
A number of elements are important when assessing your antenna system, including:
- Where you live — this determines signal coverage and frequencies.
- What equipment you have — the simpler, the better! You need a good single antenna, a good cable and a fly lead.
- How it’s installed — your antenna should be outdoors, pointing towards the right TV tower and correctly ‘polarised’.
- How it’s maintained — make sure your antenna isn’t rusty or broken, and has no missing elements.
Location, location, location
Australians live in many different geographic locations, ranging from large coastal cities to isolated outback areas. The TV signal coverage you can receive depends on where you live. Some areas are on the edge of coverage limits, so if you live in one of these places it’s even more important to have your antenna system fully optimised. If you live outside the terrestrial television coverage, you can still receive a full set of digital channels via satellite.
Following the recent switchover and retune, digital TV services are grouped into frequency blocks. These are location-specific frequencies, so where you live also affects which frequencies you receive.
A single antenna, appropriate for your local frequencies, should give you adequate reception of all services. For the best reception, make sure that your antenna points towards the broadcasting site that provides the best coverage for your location. Your television receiver should also be tuned to the services your antenna is directed at. Check out the mySwitch website for information on the best available television signals for your location, including signal level, frequencies and the best transmission tower at which to point your antenna.