…at least that’s what their website says.
A couple of years ago I had that longing for 24 hour news and more chances to see my favourite BBC comedies but Freeview were insistent that they did not cover my postcode and they had no plans to do so in the near future.
I started studying the information that this section of the Digital Television Group web site provided me with, it still claimed I would not receive all the channels but has a link for more details displaying exactly which channels I might get if I did have a Digital Terrestial Television receiver. Depending on which receiver my aerial was pointing at it became clear that I should receive at least a few extra channels with a receiver.
Now, I have often taken the dangerous attitude that I know better than the staff of many companies about their own product, and so I decided to ignore the advise from Freeview and grab myself a receiver anyway. In Dixons, where I bought it, they said I must do a coverage check before purchasing one, so I said I had done it online… which I had… I didn’t mention the check came up negative. The freeview web site, the DTG website and my, then new, Grundig GDT2000 box all had warnings that I may need an aerial upgrade in order to receive the digital signal, but I figured that although my aerial must be at least 5 years old it gets a pretty good signal on channels 1-4, so I ignored that warning as well as the advise that there was no coverage where I live. On opening the box to my new toy I was faced with a warning again… an Important Notice… that before I unpack the product I must check my postcode for reception and even if the postcode is covered I may need an aerial upgrade… I had it in mind I might buy a signal booster to see if that worked rather than a new aerial, but by now I was starting to worry that I had been very foolish in spending 90 pounds on this box out of some blind faith in this new DTT technology that was not shared by Freeview, Grundig, or Dixons and only vaguely shared by the DTG (Digital Television Group).
Still, as foolish as my actions had come to seem I plugged it all in and watched the auto setup sequence commence… I stared at the screen as it searched for channels… “0 new services found” was written at the bottom as the red bar slowly moved across from left to right, it was taking a very long time, it was more than half way across and still reporting no channels when I decided to pop out of the room nd make tea in the hope that if I didn’t look at it everything would be fine, in the same way that sometimes when something above you starts to fall you might flinch, scrunch up and close your eyes as if not seeing the object fall will mean that it can’t plunge down and hit you on the head. When I came back into the room – I can’t remember exactly what it said on the screen now – it had clearly finished searching for services and there was TV coming through my new receiver.
I paged up and down the channels, I had Channel 5 which was previously unobtainable where I live, I had BBC 3 so I had the comedies I wanted, I had Sky News so I had the 24 hour news I was longing for… it was a success! In fact, it was a huge success… no aerial upgrade and I was receiving every channel that Freeview offer, not just a selection from one transmitter. I do live fairly high up and one of the transmitters is in line of sight from my roof, which is a factor that fed my blind optimism in the first instance, but I am sure this is true of everyone in my postcode.
I believe that many retailers now use the DTG website to do their coverage checks so that they can show people which channels they might receive (and make a potential sale) rather than warn people away because they might not get anything.
Two years on and both the Freeview and DTG sites continue to say there is no coverage where I live, yet I am enjoying the benefits of being a DTT viewer almost daily. Every channel that has been launched since has been succesfully added to my channel lineup, clearly Freeview does cover my area.