Freeview LogoFreeview may be free, but that doesn’t mean it’s stable. The UK’s most popular digital TV platform has been through a few changes in its first 10 years, and the Digital Switchover means that almost every part of the UK has had to re-tune at least once.

Not all Freeview HD kit needs a re-tune - the most recent Freeview HD and Freeview receivers should pick up the signals Freeview sends out to automatically re-tune and update the channel list.
Older receivers aren’t smart enough and have to be forced to re-tune, but if you follow our step-by-step guide you’ll soon be able to do it without any worries.

If you have Freeview HD, Sky, or Virgin, you shouldn’t need to retune. If you’ve got Freesat, then you will occasionally need to retune or manually add channels from outside the official list, so try our guide to re-tuning your Freesat digital TV receiver.

Why do I have to re-tune?

There are two reasons to re-tune: changes to the Freeview channel line-up and frequency changes due to the UK Digital Switchover.

Freeview doesn’t have a fixed channel listing, and from time-to-time, new channels arrive while old ones retire. It’s a commercial service, and only the BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5 have a guaranteed right to a slot on Freeview - and even that doesn’t apply to the spin-off channels from ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5!

Digital Switchover is a juggling act where the UK’s TV frequencies have to be carefully moved around to stop them interfering with TV in neighbouring areas and countries like France, Belgium and the Netherlands. Even when the Digital Switchover finishes this year, there are likely to be a few more moves as the old analogue TV frequencies are moved around to make it possible to launch faster mobile broadband or perhaps add more Freeview channels.

How to update your channel list

If you’re only missing one or two new channels, then it’s likely a new channel has replaced an old one and you’ll need to update the channel list. If you’re looking for a new channel you know has launched, an update should find it without altering your favourite channel lists or other settings.

  1. Turn your Freeview TV or box on and place it in digital mode (press the ‘DTV’ or digital TV button)
  2. Press ‘Menu’, then ‘Setup’ or ‘Installation’. If your box or TV has picture icons, look for the tool box, spanner or satellite dish icon.
  3. If you’re asked for a security code, try 0000, 9999 or 1234.
  4. Select ‘Channel Update’ or ‘Add channels’ and press OK. Ignore options like ‘Full Re-tune’, ‘First Time Installation’, ‘Initial Setup’, ‘Factory Reset’, ‘Default Settings’, or ‘Shipping Conditions’.
  5. If you’re asked to delete all your channels, press ‘Cancel’ or ‘no’ and select a different option.
  6. Your TV or box will begin to scan for channels and will usually list what it finds. This may be followed by the TV or box re-starting. New channels will appear in the channel list at their assigned position. 

How to force a full re-tune 

If you’re missing lots of channels or it’s the first or second switchover date in your area, you’ll need to perform a full re-tune or factory reset.

You’ll need your remote control, and although every make is slightly different, most use the same technical terms. You will usually lose any TV channels you have assigned to favourite channel lists.

  1. Turn your Freeview TV or box on and place it in digital mode (press the ‘DTV’ or digital TV button)
  2. Press ‘Menu’, then ‘Setup’ or ‘Installation’. If your box or TV has picture icons, look for the tool box, spanner or satellite dish icon.
  3. If you’re asked for a security code, try 0000, 9999 or 1234.
  4. The Full Re-tune option may also be called ‘First Time Installation’, ‘Initial Setup’, ‘Factory Reset’, ‘Default Settings’, or ‘Shipping Conditions’. Select it. Ignore options like ‘Channel Update’ or ‘Add channels’.
  5. If you’re asked to delete all your channels, press ‘OK’ or ‘yes’.
  6. Your TV or box will begin to scan for channels and will usually list what it finds. This may be followed by the TV or box re-starting.