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Trees, TV, and the law

When planting a tree, consideration should be given to the size to which it will grow. Trees can interfere with television reception and if this happens, there is very little that can be done short of removing the tree or severely cutting it back.

If your reception is affected by trees that are not under your control, there are a few things that can be done to improve it. When the surrounding trees are below the level of the rooftop, there should be no problem, provided that an adequate roof-mounted UHF aerial is used. When the trees are above the level of the rooftop, however, it may be necessary to install an aerial so that it is above the trees. This could be done by mounting the aerial on a pole attached to the chimney stack or by using a remote aerial clear of the trees.

If the aerial cannot be mounted above the trees, the signal will inevitably be weakened in passing through the trees. This could be overcome by the use of a high-gain aerial, possibly with a masthead amplifier. In any case, it is desirable to use a good quality low-loss feeder to connect the aerial to the receiver and it will often be advantageous to try an alternative position for the aerial – on a different chimney stack, for instance.

If the trouble is ghosting rather than the reduction of the signal, the direction of the aerial becomes important. A high-gain aerial is usually also highly directional but some types of aerial have very good directional properties but are not high-gain.

Viewers should contact their local television dealer or a reputable aerial contractor and take care that the aerial is adequately supported. If the obstruction is caused by trees on a hill which is so far from the viewer’s house that the above suggestions are impracticable, the only way to solve the problem may be to remove those parts of the trees which are obstructing the signal or even to fell the trees.

A TV licence does not guarantee any reception, it simply grants the opportunity to operate the receiver. There are no court precedents in respect of trees interfering with TV reception and it seems that trees on neighbouring land interfering with reception are unlikely to be regarded as a nuisance by law. So any work should be by agreement with the tree owner and within statutory controls.

Bear in mind when installing a satellite dish that conditions may change. Give thought when installing a dish in winter, when the lack of leaves on a tree obstructing the reception may allow a signal to get through. In summer, when the leaves grow again, reception may become broken or impossible.


To report a tree that may be interfering with television reception, please use the online form.