- Why are some commercials much
too loud, and who should I complain to about this?
- I can't hear the dialogue clearly,
why is there so much background noise?
- Why do some programmes have black
bands at the top and bottom of the screen?
- My picture is marred by lines
and other forms of interference. Who do I report this to?
- Why aren't all programmes subtitled?
- I'm a TV licence payer, what
are my entitlements?
- My television reception is poor.
What can be done about it?
- I receive some channels better
than others. Why is this?
- Why can't I receive Channel 5,
and when will I be able to?
- My teletext and subtitles are
showing 'garbled' words. Where is the fault?
- I think my local transmitter
is faulty. Who do I contact?
- Why is my ITV1 channel about
the 'wrong' region ?
- Why does my digital picture
break up and 'freeze'?
- Some digital terrestrial channels
don't show a picture but just a red dot. Why is this?
- I have a digital terrestrial
(DTT) receiver, and some of the programmes have a deaf-signer in the
corner of the screen, which I find distracting. Why is it there?
- My sight is impaired. There
are subtitles and signing for deaf people; what about me?
Why are some commercials much too loud, and who should I complain to
Many factors can contribute to a sense of loudness; for example, the
sound level of the preceding programme or advert. We do not allow broadcasters
to make deliberate changes to increase the loudness of commercials. To
complain, make a note of the channel, the commercial, the date and time
then contact the appropriate broadcaster or the list of Ofcom
licensees can be found here.
I can't hear the dialogue clearly, why is there so much background noise?
As with loudness, this occasional problem is found to be highly subjective,
varying from one individual to another and often related to an individual's
hearing abilities, which can change with age. The effect can also vary
according to the type of television set, whether stereo, mono, surround-sound
etc. Make a note of the programme and contact the broadcaster and preferably
direct your comment to the programme's producer.
Why do some programmes have black bands at the top and bottom of the
Today, many programmes are produced in a widescreen format with an aspect
ratio of 16:9, or are films made in widescreen for the cinema. They are
often transmitted in widescreen on digital services. In order to show
more of the width of the scene as the director intended, small black bands
are placed at the top and bottom of conventional analogue 4:3 aspect ratio
screens. Digital widescreen sets do not show these bands, and most widescreen
TVs allow the viewer to "zoom" into the picture. By selecting this option
the bands can be made to move out of sight.
Some TVs and set-top boxes have menus that allow viewers to set their
preferences for the way pictures are displayed.
My picture is marred by lines and other forms of interference. Who do
I report this to?
This depends on the nature of interference. Generally, if the interference
is on one service only and constant throughout the day - but has only
recently appeared - then it is possible that the fault may be at the transmitter.
If so, contact the appropriate broadcaster. Contact details for commercial
broadcasters can be found here.
If it is intermittent and affecting a number of services it could either
be local interference, or it could be weather-related 'co-channel' interference
from distant transmitters. The former can be reported to Ofcom here.
Temporary interference from distant transmitters can occur from time to
time, particularly during settled anticyclonic weather conditions.
Why aren't all programmes subtitled?
Most Public Service (PSB) channels (analogue and digital) now carry subtitling
on more than two thirds of programmes, with more increases to come. On
ITV1, 80% of programmes will be subtitled by 2004, and 90% by 2010. Channel
4 aims to match the same number of programme hours provided by ITV1 by
2010. Channel 5 will subtitle 80% of programme hours in 2008, compared
to 50% of programme hours in 2002.
Not all the newer digital services necessarily need to carry subtitles,
as the legislation varies between terrestrial, satellite or cable. New
terrestrial channels must carry a limited amount, about 10%, but this
is set to grow over the years to 80%. Apart from the terrestrially broadcast
channels there is no regulatory requirement for subtitles on other services,
or on satellite, but we expect this to change as part of the new Communications
I'm a TV licence payer, what are my entitlements?
To own and operate a TV set, but there is no entitlement to reception
of any particular service, or of the quality of the received signal at
individual locations. The Ofcom's Technical Performance Code requires
the Ofcom's terrestrial licensees to maintain high standards of service
reliability and, for Channels 3, 4 and 5, and S4C digital, to maintain
high standards of technical quality for pictures and sound. While the
Ofcom and the BBC endeavour to ensure a wide range of TV services are
available throughout the UK, unfortunately there are inevitably some areas
which receive a limited range of services, or where local geography or
other factors prevent good reception.
My television reception is poor. What can be done about it?
Check that your aerial installation is in good order, and that it is
suitable for the transmitter serving your area. Contact a reputable aerial
installer for more detailed advice.
I receive some channels better than others. Why is this?
Apart from some Channel 5 transmitters, the main four analogue channels
are broadcast at the same power and are co-sitedon the same
transmitter masts. Aerials are designed for specific bands of frequencies
or channels. It may be that your aerial is the incorrect type for the
transmitter ie, it does not have the correct bandwidth. A higher gain
aerial may help, and the positioning of the aerial is also important.
Why can't I receive Channel 5, and when will I be able to?
Channel 5 was introduced later than the other four UHF analogue services,
and because spare frequency channels were not available in some areas,
it was it wasn't possible to build as many transmitters. Look at the Ofcom's
transmitter information pages or on Channel 5's web site (www.channel5.co.uk)
to see if you are in range of a transmitter and check whether your aerial
is of the suitable aerial group. Channel 5 is also available from digital
satellite and cable services.
My teletext and subtitles are showing 'garbled' words. Where is the
This is probably the result of the aerial receiving two signals: one
direct from the transmitter and the other reflected from an obstruction
such as a large building, trees, a hillside or similar. This is an effect
similar to 'ghosting', but results from short-term echoes which are not
necessarily visible on the picture. There are number of techniques that
can be used to reduce or remove the problem. Contact a reputable aerial
installer to see if improvements can be made to your installation.
I think my local transmitter is faulty. Who do I contact?
The appropriate broadcaster of that channel - but not TV Licensing or
the transmitter operators. A list of the commercial broadcasters can be
Why is my ITV1 channel about the 'wrong' region ?
Most likely because local topography prevents signals reaching you from
a transmitter which does carry the most appropriate regional services
for your area. Try contacting a reputable aerial installer to see if a
signal is available.
Why does my digital picture break up and 'freeze'?
This is usually due to a low signal level or interference. Ask your installer
to ensure the decoder is receiving the minimum levels of signal required.
Some digital terrestrial channels don't show a picture but just a red
dot. Why is this?
This is caused by a weak or poor quality signal being received.
I have a digital terrestrial (DTT) receiver, and some of the programmes
have a deaf-signer in the corner of the screen, which I find distracting.
Why is it there?
The Broadcasting Act requires a small number programmes on each channel
to be signed. The broadcasters are seeking a technical solution which
will let the signer be "hidden", much like subtitling, for viewers who
don't require signing.
My sight is impaired. There are subtitles and signing for deaf people;
what about me?
Audio Description is becoming available on digital terrestrial services.
Currently the amount is 4%, rising every two years to reach the current
target of 10% within 10 years. However, receiving equipment is still under
development, and is not generally available at the moment.