TV via Aerial
There is no longer any Analogue TV since 24th October 2012
MMDS, UPC cable, Virgin Cable, Sky and Freesat do not use an aerial.
There are a few not quite compatible Digital TV systems that use an aerial that can be received in Ireland or Northern Ireland.
There is no such thing as a “Digital” Aerial. Digital TV is usually received on the same aerial as used for UHF Analogue T.V.
Even so called “DAB” aerials are the same thing as Irish VHF TV aerials or old 405 line ITV aerials.
See also “Installing a TV aerial”
Saorview or Freeview HD?
The Irish Digital TV via an Aerial is called Saorview and the UK system is called Freeview, now upgraded to Freeview HD (which works with old Freeview). Only people near Border or on South east Coast can get UK TV via an aerial from N.I., Wales or a few from I.OM. But conversely about 55% in N.I. can get an Irish Saorview transmission from across the Border if they have Freeview HD equipment. Additionally and uniquely Brougher Mountain, Black Mountain and Carnmoney Hill have a N.I. Minimux (NIMM) transmitting SD RTE1, RTE2 (no HD like Saorview) and TG4. This although not HD will only work with a Freeview HD TV or box. Unlike actual Saorview, some programs are blocked currently.
Reception can be a converter box (Set-boxes were first used in 1955 in UK for ITV on BBC only TVs!). Newer TVs (Increasingly since 2008) and all since 2012 should work directly with an aerial. Older TVs or incompatible TV sets need an external Set-box to convert to SCART or HDMI. Very few converter boxes feed a TV aerial socket.
The satellite services are Freesat (UK and Ireland) and Saorsat (Ireland only but including 100% of N.I.). They don’t have exactly the same content and need a dish and usually a satellite receiver box.
Ireland & UK use various “flavours” of the DVB system: DVB-T and DVB-T2 with MHEG5
Do not buy TV, USB sticks, Set-box, PVR, tuner cards unless you know they work here specifically non DVB systems don’t work ANYWHERE in UK or Ireland. Do check our Black List, which also lists two “Freeview HD” models with problems on Saorview.
No compatibility at all for
- ASTC (North America)
- ISDB-T (Japan)
- ISDB-T S (South America)
- DTMB (China)
Absolutely do not buy retail products from or intended for those regions.
There are many variations though of DVB-T.
Only some work and only on some channels!
Options for Equipment vs DVB-T systems in Ireland & UK
- “Usually Mostly” means that Interactive text works, but there may be problems with channel numbering, automatic recording on PVRs (Personal Video Recorder) or Summer/Winter time changes.
- *At least one model of Freeview HD box doesn’t work with Saorview.
- Some 2008 to 2011 pan European HD TV sets with MPEG4 do mostly work on Saorview and Freeview. Some are Freeview Certified
- “X” means no TV, perhaps sound or nothing at all.
- “No MHEG5” means no Interactive at all and no Text, except maybe Teletext. Only TG4 and TV3 have Teletext.
- Freeview TVs and boxes do not do traditional Teletext at all.
- Saorview 2013+ From January 2013 newly certified TVs or boxes must support DVB-T2
Freeview and Freeview HD are the UK brands and systems defined in UK “D-Book” for TV via an aerial
Freesat and Freesat HD are the UK brands and systems defined in UK “D-Book” for TV via a dish from a Satellite.
Freesat+ HD and Freeview+ HD are the brands for a PVR (personal video recorder).
A PVR has two tuners and an Internal Hard Disk Drive (HDD). Anything else is a recording feature with limitations and not supported or certified by the Broadcast platform (Saorview or Freeview) for recording.
About 55% of people in N.I. can receive Saorview directly. Irish viewers in Border areas or the South East coast can get N.I. or Welsh UK Freeview and Freeview HD equipment.
Both Saorview and Freeview HD boxes work with old Non-HD TVs (CRT or flat). Don’t buy a Freeview box or TV in the UK as you miss out on UK channels.
If you only get Irish TV, then only get either type of Saorview equipment. From 2013 all Saorview equipment certified must have DVB-T2 like Freeview HD has. There is no plan to change the Saorview transmissions, existing Saorview equipment will be fine.
If you can only get UK TV, then get “Freeview HD” equipment.
If you can get UK TV and Irish TV, then get “Freeview HD” or Saorview models certified from January 2013.
The Northern Ireland MiniMux (NIMM) is “Freeview HD” compatible, even though it has no HD content. Ordinary Freeview and also Saorview models certified before 2013 will not work.
Avoid Generic equipment. There is no such thing as Saorview or Freeview compatible unless it’s officially certified. Especially avoid importing personally (e.g. China / Hong Kong) because even if it is the correct type of DVB-T for your signal, the power supply (PSU) is very likely to be Shock or Fire risk or Radio Interference. “CE” marks are often fake.
Here is a list of models to avoid for Freeview HD (UK) or Saorview (Ireland).