We’ve all been there. Ninety minutes into the big game, seconds before the equaliser clears the goal line. Tensions are mounting; beads of sweat are licking at our eyes, eyes that we dare not close lest we miss that wonderful, transcendent moment and then… nothing. Cold. Black. Oblivion.
I’m of course talking about TV blackouts, a curse we were promised would have been all but destroyed by the advent of digital television. A digital signal is still just that though (a signal), so there will be times when you suffer from poor reception. Instead of just hoping that your reception only cuts out during the adverts though, there are a few simple ‘fixes’ that should help even the most technophobic amongst you fix your poor digital TV signal. Although we won’t be able to help you with more serious, technological issues, the majority of signal problems are generally quite easily solved.
Have you Tried Turning it off and on Again?
Don’t laugh. This should genuinely be the first thing you try. At least 20% of the time switching off your digital receiver at the mains, giving it a few minutes to cool down and then switching it back on again can fix most signal problems. This is basically because digital receivers can be temperamental and turning them off ‘resets’ their circuits. I won’t pretend to know exactly why it works but trust us, it does.
Of course if this ‘catch-all’ fix turns up a big fat load of nothing then please feel free to read on. We can’t promise that the fix to your problem will be found within these next 400 or so words but it’s certainly worth at least considering them before you panic and ring for a repair technician.
The Picture is Breaking up and the Sound Quality is Poor or Non-Existent
This is quite a common problem that could be caused by a number of factors. If the problem only reveals itself when you switch on a light or some other piece of electric equipment, electrical interference is most likely the cause of your woes. If this is the case, simply move whatever piece of equipment is causing the problem away from your television and try it again. On the other hand it could be a problem with your aerial. If the TV Aerial Installers have installed your aerial incorrectly or if (for example) the wind has shifted its position, your aerial might need to be realigned. During the day (this should never be attempted at night or when you’re alone for that matter) try adjusting the aerial yourself manually by shifting it by small increments and asking somebody in the living room to check on the reception. If the problem still persists however you might want to consider calling in a specialist.
Green Screen of Death
If the picture on your TV is fuzzy or bright green it’s most likely a problem with your SCART connections. This is a less common problem now that the majority of televisions use HDMI connections, but if your TV is connected to your digital receiver by a SCART cable then there are two possibilities. Either your cable is connected loosely or the cable is fried completely. Turn off your box, check the connection and make sure that it’s firm and stable. If the connection is solid but the problem persists, you’re probably the (not so) proud owner of a defective SCART cable. A new cable shouldn’t set you back any more than a tenner though.
Some of the Channels Have Disappeared
If only some of your available channels are suddenly acting up there may be some maintenance work happening at your local transmitter that is temporarily interfering with the signal. Or it could be a glitch. If this is the case, try retuning your box by using the procedure you would have been taught by the initial Sky, Virgin or Freeview TV Installers and then reboot the system. If the problem persists there might be a problem with the channel itself or your box might be faulty.
The Picture is Breaking up or There’s no Picture at All
If this is the case, your problem is probably weather related. Heavy rain and lightning are common causes of digital TV reception interference and unfortunately in this case there’s very little you can do (unless you can control the weather of course). You could try resetting and retuning your box but the fix would only be temporary. Try reading or doing something else to take your mind off it until the weather dies down.
My Television Looks Like a Snow Globe
If you’ve got a case of the classic ‘fuzzies’ (nothing on screen but black and white dots) then the problem will most likely be with the cable that connects the aerial to the digital receiver. Turn the box off, make sure the cable is attached properly and if the problem persists, contact a professional as splitter cables are complicated and temperamental enough to confuse even the most technologically savvy of us.
Bob Emerald is a copywriter and TV enthusiast from the UK who regularly suffers reception problems.