Bad or no TV reception can be frustrating. Sometimes the problem is caused by things you can fix, other times it may be out of your control or you need a specialist to help. Here’s an overview of the most common TV reception issues. You can also use our self-help guide to help identify the problem and what to do.
TV station issues
Sometimes TV stations have planned maintenance, faults or outages that will affect the reception at your location.
Each TV station is responsible for the transmission of their signal and their maintenance schedules.
The right set-up for your location
TV signals are sent from towers. Your antenna and equipment need to be set-up to receive the strongest signal to your location.
Check on the mySwitch website
Go to the mySwitch website and enter your address. mySwitch will tell you:
- the TV transmitter that has the strongest signals to your location
- the direction to point your antenna
- the level of expected signal coverage in your area
- the TV channel frequencies for your address
- if your antenna should be vertical or horizontal
- if there are any known reception issues for your area.
Areas with poor or no reception
mySwitch may show that you live in an area with poor reception, fortuitous reception or no free-to-air TV coverage. If so, you may be able to get viewer access satellite television (VAST). Find out how to apply for VAST.
TV reception equipment
Most problems with TV reception are from antenna and cabling that is faulty or may not have been installed properly.
You should check your:
- cables, fly leads and connections
- TV or set top box receivers
- signal boosters.
TV antenna last 10 to 15 years. They can be damaged by bad weather or birds. Common problems with antenna that can affect your TV reception include:
- broken, missing or rusty parts
- wrong type for your area
- not tall enough
- in the wrong spot on your roof.
Your TV antenna needs to be:
- the correct type of antenna for the TV channel frequencies in your area, with correct antenna gain (how much the antenna can ‘amplify’ weak signals).
- in the right position on your roof and pointing in the right direction
- in good condition
- set up correctly.
Your antenna should also have a 4G filter installed to protect from mobile phone tower signals.
Check if you have the right design, size and type of antenna for your location at mySwitch. It will also tell you:
- if your antenna needs to be pointed horizontally or vertically at the correct TV tower
- how high your antenna needs to be.
You should only have a single antenna installed on your roof. Legacy or broken antennas should be removed.
Adding more antennas will not improve your TV reception, it can make the problem worse. Using indoor TV antenna ('rabbit ears') can also cause reception problems.
Get an experienced local antenna specialist to inspect, repair or replace your antenna if you think it may be the problem.
Cables, fly leads and connections
Cables and fly leads should be:
- straight, not bent
- not too long
- in good condition.
To meet Australian standards, the cable that connects your antenna to your TV should be a quad-shield coaxial cable (type RG6).
Check the connection between your wall socket and TV, video recorder or set-top box.
If you have a connector or splitter to split the signal from your antenna to 2 or more TVs, this will reduce the signal level and may reduce reception quality.
TV or set top box receivers
Check your TV or set top box receiver is tuned to the right channel frequencies for your location. Check mySwitch for a list of the correct frequencies for your location.
Use your remote control to manual tune (rather than auto-tune) to the right frequencies.
Use a signal booster or amplifier only if necessary. They can cause reception problems by overloading your TV receiver with TV or mobile phone signals. They can also cause interference to your neighbourhood.
Interference is when other signals affect your TV reception. Sometimes the interference can be caused by geography, weather or even a TV station, but mostly it’s due to things in or around our home.
Interference from within your house
Electric appliances send out high bursts of energy that can interfere with TV reception.
Appliances with an electric motor, thermostat-controlled appliances and others can cause interference. For example:
- swimming pool pumps
- power tools
- washing machines
- hot water systems
- pool chlorinators
- LED lights
- light switches and power boards
- electric fences.
Check for interference by turning off the appliance and see if your TV reception improves. If it does, turn the appliance back on again and check if the interference comes back. If so, it means the appliance is causing interference. Get a qualified person to fix your appliance.
If your reception does not change when you turn the appliances on and off, the problem is not the appliance.
Sometimes interference can be caused by things outside your house including streetlights, powerlines, mobile phone towers or nearby equipment. Use our self-help guide to see if this could be the problem and what to do.
Sometimes, where you live can affect how TV signals reach you. Hilly or heavily forested areas with high trees and dense foliage can impact signals, as well as a phenomenon called atmospheric ducting. Ducting is when distant services interfere with the local services during certain weather conditions. It is more common during warmer months and usually occurs (or is noticed by viewers) more often in the early evening. If the reception is continuously unreliable due to these causes, you may need to investigate satellite TV.
You can also check our location-specific information about poor TV reception.
Get a local antenna specialist to check your antenna, equipment and sources of interference.
In some situations, we will investigate external interference, but we can only do this after an antenna installer has inspected.