Why you have to retune your TV to get all the Digital Channels


Across Australia the switch to Digital Television was a progressive one which took place over many years and judging by the number of calls I received on both Radio and Podcast technology shows – a successful one for most Australians.  2014 presents a new challenge as the nation takes its final step in the move to Digital – the retune!

Its time to retune your TV

Its time to retune your TV

Apart from better quality and more channels, one of the key drivers of the switch to Digital TV was the federal government’s “Digital Dividend”.  The idea being that once all the TV stations are broadcasting in Digital, the “space” in the air known as “spectrum” which was used by Analogue TV could be auctioned off by the government.

That Auction took place last year and looks to have brought in a healthy couple of billion dollars. However, the space that was auctioned off isn’t available just yet.  Across the country all the TV transmitters need to be changed to move the channels into a single block together, freeing up a large contiguous block of spectrum – more valuable than lots of little bits and pieces.

So how does this affect you?

As a viewer, the end result is no different.  The same number of TV channels are being broadcast, they will appear on the same channel numbers on your TV.  However, behind the scenes your TV and the transmitter need to have a bit of a reconfiguration which actually moves several channels around.

What do you need to do?

Every single Television in Australia must be retuned in 2014.  The specific date depends on the area you are in – Sydney happens tomorrow Tuesday 18 March.  For your local date check the Government’s retune website.

Retuning your TV isn’t as easy as you might hope on some sets.  Every single make and model is different.  The basic principles are the same.  You need to get into your TV’s menu – to do this, grab your remote and find the MENU button.

The retune menu - found on a Sanyo TV

The retune menu – found on a Sanyo TV

Once in there, look for an option related to “Setup” or “Channels” or “Tuning”  Look then for an option to “Auto-tune” or “search”.  This will set your TV off looking for the latest channel configurations.

It’s a process that takes about 3-5 minutes, and if you’re worried about doing something wrong to your TV – don’t be – the worst you can do is a factory reset, and the good news is – that will force a retune also.

What if I don’t do it?

If you don’t retune your TV you won’t get all the stations available on Free-to-air TV.  In different locations across Australia this will affect different channels.  In Sydney, if you do not retune your TV – when you next go to watch SBS channels (SBS ONE, SBS HD, SBS 2, NITV) you’ll get a black screen or “no signal”.  A simple retune will ensure you’re getting every channel.

Once I’ve done my TV is that it?

That’s it for that TV, but you should remember that every Digital TV needs to be retuned, so if you’ve got a TV in the kitchen, the bedroom, the man-cave or anywhere else, it needs the same treatment.

Additionally, take the time to think about your neighbours and relatives, particularly the elderly – this isn’t the easiest process in the world – so pop round and help out your friends, family and neighbours.

I have Foxtel – do I need to do anything?

Yes.  While you won’t need to do anything to your Foxtel box, and viewing channels like SBS (channel 104 on Foxtel) won’t change – don’t forget that behind every good Foxtel connection is a standard TV.  Should you choose at some stage not to keep your Foxtel service, or if your Foxtel service is unavailable for technical reasons, how will you watch TV?

To check and retune, disconnect your Foxtel box from the TV and flick through the channels using your TV remote control.  If you’re not getting all those Free-to-Air Digital Channels (ABC, ABC2/4, ABC3, ABC News 24, SBS, SBS HD, SBS 2, NITV, Seven, 7Mate, 7 Two, Nine, Go!, Gem, Ten, One, Eleven and more) then you need to retune.

Plus, don’t forget those TVs in the house that don’t have a Foxtel box.




  1. Brian O'Donnell

    March 17, 2014 at 11:38 am

    More information here than any of the other sites – including FOXTEL. Virtually everyone I know including elderly neighbours has FOXTEL. One more question on FOXTEL. I access via satellite (in Cronulla 2230) and do not have an aerial. Do we need to do anything regarding retune?

    • Trevor Long

      March 17, 2014 at 12:10 pm

      If you’re watching through your Foxtel you’ll still get the same channels including Free-To-Air that you currently get without interruption.

      However, note: via Satellite you’re not getting ALL the free-to-air channels, so you should switch to your TV’s tuner and see what channels you can get even without an aerial. Adding an aerial will give you access to the 20+ Free-to-Air’s that now broadcast..


  2. Ian Sydney

    March 19, 2014 at 10:02 pm

    Thanks for the info. I’m in Sydney CBD. After retuning my LG STB, sure, I get ALL the channels but their channel numbers are now all over the place. Channel 2 is still ABC and 9 is still Nine, but 7 is way up on 350 and not on channel 7 anymore. Many are now empty. Same with 1HD and many others. I did an auto retune. I hate the channels being all over the place. Any suggestions please? thanks, Ian, Sydney.

    • Trevor Long

      March 20, 2014 at 11:22 am

      So to tune into Channel 7 you need to press channel 350?

      I wonder when you did the retune – might be worth doing it again now, after all the in-fill transmitters have been completed..


      • Ian Sydney

        April 11, 2014 at 2:34 pm

        Re EMPTY CHANNELS. After several digital set top box factory re-sets and auto re-tunes, the digital channels now seem to be working correctly in the corresponding correct channel numbers. No more double-ups and no channels of 350 or over. All seems to have settled down, thanks for all the comments and support. Ian, Sydney CBD.

  3. Graham

    April 4, 2014 at 3:31 am

    I also did auto retune & I too have empty channels eg. ten has 3 slots – the top is no service i.e empty & the other 2 work perfectly!?

    • Trevor Long

      April 7, 2014 at 8:35 pm

      Graham, try a full reset, to factory – if that fails, then you need to look at your antenna configuration on the roof mate.

  4. Lisa

    June 9, 2014 at 7:21 pm

    I have had nothing but trouble with this retuning BS! Have done the retune after the said date and lost channels. Did a factory reset and same thing. Also other channels that used to work perfect are now dropping out all the time rendering them unwatchable! Thanks heaps

    • Trevor Long

      June 10, 2014 at 3:47 pm

      Well sorry Lisa – but please don’t blame us!! It had to be done.

      You should get an antenna specialist out to check your antenna configuration as that is likely the issue.

  5. chris whitehead

    July 31, 2014 at 10:14 pm

    I agree Lisa I have lost all free to air channels also I’m in Nowra. I have spoken to an antenna installer today who said if I had all the channels previously it’s not a fault with the aerial. Also why should I have to pay hundreds of dollars when I never had any problems before. The government should fix it they are the ones who dismantled it.

  6. Richard D

    September 17, 2014 at 2:30 pm

    I have just retuned on the day (Central Coast NSW) as I have been told and lost half my channels as I used receive both Newcastle and Sydney but now we don’t get Sydney and the clarity from Newcastle was never as good and had signal lost.

  7. Marie

    September 17, 2014 at 6:57 pm

    Retuned tv and have no channels at all. Also have a tbox with a few free to air channel eg win abc nit no prime, ten

  8. Jill Sutton

    September 18, 2014 at 6:01 pm

    I have retuned on Central Coast Sep 17 2014. 3.30 pm . All 3 Televisions in home retuned effortlessly, however I cannot retune PVRecorder. Contacted digital ready and had a Senior Agent call me today 18/08/14. who patiently troubled shoot all options over Telephone to retune recorder. Call lasting over an hour. Still no success I have been able to only retune 8NBN, 88 GO centre, 80GEM, 84 eXtra, 85 eXtra+2. My PVR was working perfectly with an almost new aerial, at 2.00 pm yesterday prior to he changeover. “what is going On”. If a senior agent who was very knowledgable and helpful cannot resolve these transmissions, what are we now left with. Very pissed Off

  9. Michelle

    September 18, 2014 at 7:05 pm

    I’m also on the Central Coast NSW & after re tuning my TV yesterday have lost all my Sydney Channels & a few extra today as well. Have tried re tuning thru the TBox and also unplugging the TBox & just re tuning the TV, but still no change. Any suggestions as to how we can get these channels back?

  10. Lesley Martin

    November 26, 2015 at 8:15 pm

    I just jumped straight in and retuned without making any enquiries about whether I needed to, but now I have no Foxtel channels. What to do now? Tried the reset button – no change.

    • Trevor Long

      November 27, 2015 at 9:41 am

      Well your Foxtel channels appear via a different source, so you need to switch from TV to AV1 or HDMI1 – wherever your Foxtel box is connected to

  11. Sue Van Oosterom

    November 29, 2015 at 1:29 pm

    I did a random retune yesterday (in Port Stephens) immediately lost half my channels, several are jagged and patchy yet TV downstairs perfect as I did not retune that yet working off same aerial…done a reset but cannot find a signal on nine, gem, go, prime etc…

  12. laurie dillon

    April 3, 2016 at 7:57 am

    i have no sound on some channels e.g. 68 help please

  13. Pauline Gates

    October 6, 2017 at 11:50 am

    I have tried auto tuning my television, which is a hd tv and fairly new so do not need box. We had Foxtel up until recently and had no problems with the free to air channels, now we are unable to get all the free air channels. what can we do?

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