Freeview customers have been left enraged after a number of popular channels vanished from set-top boxes and built-in services across the UK. The disappearing channels, which could leave thousands unable to watch their favourite shows tonight, was caused by planned changes to the free-to-view network overnight. The firm behind the service had warned users they might need to retune their devices to get a complete suite of content back after the overnight update, but many continue to be left without their channels.

Social media platforms, including Twitter, have been filled with complaints as angry Freeview users post comments like: “I love these Freeview updates. Each time I rescan the television I seem to lose additional channels! I’m down to QVC, Free Sports and That’s 70s and it’s only 3pm!”

Another added: “Lost all the channels I usually watch after the big @FreeviewTV retune this morning.”

So why has this happened?

Some Freeview channels are moving to new airwaves to allow for the future development of new mobile broadband services. Following a decision by the UK Government, transmitters are being updated region by region as part of a major engineering programme due to complete this year.

The latest updates, rolled out this week, have been taking place in parts of north-west England, north-east Wales and Scotland. It’s thought these changes will affect some 2.8 million homes in total. Viewers in these areas may now need to retune their TV or box if they find they are missing channels.

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Freeview says that retuning should be straightforward and some TV equipment will actually retune automatically although some older aerials may need to be replaced to continue receiving all channels. 

Speaking about the changes, Kate Macefield, Programme Director, said: ‘We’re making sure viewers are aware of these changes to local airwaves so that they can continue watching their favourite programmes on Freeview.

“Retuning usually only takes a few minutes but, if anyone is unsure of what to do, there will be plenty of information available on our website and from our advice line team.”

“‘These final required updates mark the completion of a major engineering programme in the North West and will clear the way for improved mobile services across the region.”

If you’re still having issues you can visit the Freeview website at or contact the Freeview Advice Line free on 0808 100 0288.

If you need to retune your box then you can find full details on how to do this below.

Freeview lost channels: how to start an automatic retune

• Press menu on your box or TV remote control

• Select set-up, installation, update or a similar option. If you’re asked for a password, the default code is 1234 or 0000.

• Select first-time installation (sometimes called factory reset, full retune or default settings). Press OK if your equipment asks if it’s OK to delete existing channels and then your retune should start automatically.

• If prompted, save the channels that are found.

• Freeview lost channels: how to perform a full manual retune

If you’ve already run through the automatic retune options above and it still isn’t sorted, you can manually search by channel frequencies.

• Using your remote control, press the menu button.

• Select the set up or installation option. If you see picture icons, select the toolbox, satellite dish or spanner.

• Select manual retune or manual search.

• If you’re prompted for a code, try 0000 or 1234.

• When your device asks for a channel number (frequency), type it in. You’ll find this information in the ‘Now’ row and ‘N’ column of the table of your most likely transmitter, in the detailed view of the Freeview Checker (below the channel icons)