How to fix common TV problems

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We love a bit of telly, but we hate when things go wrong. From dodgy signal to channels disappearing, any number of things can ruin an evening in front of the box.

Some issues crop up a little more often than others. Here are some of the most common TV problems you might encounter - and how you can solve them.

Problem: Some channels are missing.


First of all, check that the channel you're missing hasn't moved to a different number or changed its name. Pretty sure it should be there, but it's not? Time to retune your set top box.

Do this by pressing 'menu' on your TV or remote control, and selecting 'tuning menu' (or 'setup,' or 'installation' - it can vary from box to box). Enter your PIN if prompted - the default is usually 1234 or 0000 if you haven't changed it. Then select 'automatic retune,' or 'auto setup,' or 'update.' Your box should start re-tuning itself, and all your channels should come back.

If that doesn't work, try unplugging your aerial, plugging it back in, and retuning again.

If that doesn't work, go outside and check that all is okay with your aerial. You may need to call in an engineer to fix it.

Problem: I can't get TV signal.


This could just be a case of waiting for the weather to improve, but it's also likely to be a hardware issue. Start by retuning your set top box using the steps above.

No luck? Take a look at the cables and the aerial. Check everything is plugged in properly and not damaged in any way - and make sure your aerial isn't pointing directly into a tree or somewhere else that might create interference.

Still nothing? Time to call in an aerial engineer.

Problem: I can't get HD channels.


Not all tellies let you watch HD channels. For a start, you'll need a HD-ready TV set. And then you'll need a set top box that can receive HD channels. Remember that some channels are only available with certain TV packages - take a look at our channel lists to see which you can get with each provider.

Problem: I can't watch sport channels.


A lot of sports channels are premium ones. In other words, you need a subscription to Sky Sports or BT Sport in order to watch them. So if they're not available to you, you'll need to either sign up, activate your subscription, or check that your subscription is still live. Try re-tuning your set top box too, to see if they appear.

For HD sports channels, you'll need a HD-ready telly and a HD set top box - and for BT Sport Ultra HD, they'll need to be 4K-ready too.

Bear in mind that even with a subscription, you won't be able to watch BT Sport channels if your broadband isn't fast enough. You may need to upgrade to a better broadband deal.

Most sports are also available to watch on the Sky Sports and BT Sport apps, which you can find on desktop browsers, smartphones, and tablets. So don't worry about missing an important match - there's always a way.

Problem: A programme I want to watch is only available on Netflix.


You'd be surprised how easy it is to watch shows via streaming services on your TV. The Netflix app can be found on a lot of Freeview boxes, Virgin Media TiVo, YouView boxes too. All you need to do is load it up, and either log in or sign up to a subscription. BT TV and TalkTalk TV will even let you add this to your usual monthly bill.

Not got the right set top box? You can also use games consoles, or a streaming stick could be the answer.

Streaming video, especially in HD, eats up a lot of data, so we'd recommend an unlimited broadband package.

Problem: My remote control isn't working properly.


Ailing batteries are the usual cause of a dodgy remote. Simply replacing them with new ones should do the trick. If not, you may need to buy a new remote - though luckily they're not expensive.

TV and remote

Problem: I can't get Virgin Media.


Alas, Virgin Media has its own cable network separate from the wider-reaching BT one, and it hasn't yet rolled out everywhere. You can register your interest on the Virgin Media website, which will mean a higher chance of it getting installed in your postcode. But until then, take a look at what is available where you are with our postcode checker - you may be able to get a fab deal on a package from Sky or BT, for instance.

Problem: I can't get Sky.


Sky TV is available virtually everywhere, since it works through satellites… but, of course, that means you need a satellite dish. And not everyone can get one. Living in shared accommodation, a rented home, or an apartment building, for instance, could all mean that you aren't able to install a dish.

Sky Go, on the other hand - that's Sky's on demand service, that lets you watch TV from any device - is available to everyone for a monthly fee. Or if it's Sky Cinema or Sky Sports you're after, there are plenty of alternative ways to get those too, whether it's as an add-on to an alternative TV package or through an app.

Problem: My TV provider keeps raising its prices.


It could be time to switch to a new one that offers you a better value deal on the TV you want. Enter your postcode into our postcode checker to see what TV packages you can get.

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