FAQ's - TV Reception

How can I find out about transmission problems in my area?

For general information or advice about SBS reception, contact our Transmission Services department during business hours (9am - 5 pm AEST) on the toll-free number 1800 500 727. After hours, enquiries can be left on voicemail. Alternatively, you can access the SBS Transmission website for information about reception, digital transmission, interference, transmitter sites, frequencies and the self help retransmission scheme.

Is SBS TV received Australia-wide?

Increasingly, transmission platforms are carrying both television and radio services; currently this applies on both the VAST (viewer access satellite television) system and the digital terrestrial television platform.


SBS transmits 539 terrestrial television services around the country, serving approximately 97% of the Australian population.

This is comprised of:

o    344 digital terrestrial services provided by Broadcast Australia

o    113 re-transmission services provided by Regional Broadcasters Australia (RBA), Transmitters Australia (TXA);  and

o    82 self-help transmitters provided by local council and community groups.

·         By including the VAST satellite platform, with its 290,000+ receivers, SBS reaches almost 100% of Australians.

·         SBS is also retransmitted on the cable and satellite subscription services of Foxtel.


What is the difference between an analogue signal and a digital signal?

A digital signal provides a sharper picture and is far superior to the analogue service. With a digital signal, SBS can also offer a greater selection of channels. The following digital services are currently available: 

SBS - Standard Definition - Channel 3
SBS HD - High Definition - Channel 30
SBS VICELAND HD – High Definition – Channel 31
SBS VICELAND - Standard Definition - Channel 32
FOOD NETWORK - Standard Definition - Channel 33
NITV - Standard Definition - Channel 34

SBS Arabic24 - Standard Definition – Channel 36

SBS RADIO 1 - Channel 37

SBS RADIO 2 – Channel 38

SBS RADIO 3 – Channel 39

What is the difference between Standard Definition (SD) and High Definition (HD)?

Both standard and high definitions are digital formats. Standard definition (SD) format provides superior digital picture and sound quality on a widescreen (16:9) format and it’s considerably better than analog. High definition (HD) television is an enhancement that provides higher resolution picture.

SD digital TV broadcast resolution – 720 x 576 pixels

HD digital TV broadcast resolution – 1920 x 1080 pixels

What can I do if my new digital TV/set top box does not receive SBS?

You will have to rescan/retune your digital TV or set top box. If an automatic scan doesn't work, try a manual scan by entering the frequency on which SBS is transmitted in your area (see next question). Digital TV can suffer from glitches just like a computer, so you may need to unplug the TV or set top box from the mains power supply, wait for 20 seconds, then plug it in again and rescan. You may also need to check the age and condition of the antenna.

Below are some basic retuning instructions which are not related to any specific receiver brand or model. Menu descriptions and labels may vary depending on your equipment.

Auto Tuning

Press the ‘Menu’ or the ‘Home’ button on the remote control

This will display the control panel of your TV/Set Top Box

Select ‘setup’, ‘settings’, ‘broadcasting’ or ‘installation’ (depending on your device make and model)

Press OK

Select ‘Digital Tuning’ if prompted

Press OK

Select ‘Auto Tuning’

Press OK

The Auto Tuning will start and take a few minutes to rescan all the channels.

Press Exit

For specific retuning instructions, consult your equipment’s user manual. For more information or assistance when retuning your TV, please contact the SBS Reception Advisory Line on 1800 500 727.

I want to manually retune only SBS. How do I find the SBS physical channel number and frequency for my area?

Frequency information by state is available on the SBS Transmission website.

I have lost the SBS signal, how do I get it back?

In most cases, retuning the TV solves the issue. Otherwise you may have to reset your antenna connection cable and retune again or eventually get a qualified antenna technician to check your antenna system.

Why does my picture continually break up?

Picture break-up (pixelation) is generally due to low signal level or signal interference. Common causes are faulty antenna cabling and connections, bad atmospheric conditions, or electrical appliances operating in the area. The most common solution is again to retune the TV, but if that doesn't help you will need to call an antenna technician.

How can I receive the SBS satellite service if I'm in a remote location?

The Australian Government funds a free-to-air satellite service – Viewer Access Satellite Television (VAST). VAST provides digital television to viewers in remote areas of Australia who are unable to receive digital TV through their normal TV antenna due to local interference, terrain obstacles or lack of signal from the transmitter in the area..

What equipment do I need?

To access VAST you will need to buy a VAST certified satellite set top box and a satellite dish of at least 65cm diameter. Contact your satellite dish installer to determine the best dish size for your specific location. Access to VAST is controlled by the smart card supplied with your satellite set top box. To access VAST you will need to register your details including your address, reception location and smart card number at the VAST website.

What are self help services?

Communities that do not yet receive SBS or do not receive adequate broadcast signals can establish their own retransmission facilities for the broadcast of SBS and other television and radio services in their area. These services, known as self-help services, are owned and operated by local communities, mostly in regional and remote areas of Australia. To date, more than 82 communities have chosen to fund their own local television transmitter to deliver digital TV services under such an arrangement and also several analog radio FM services around Australia.

Setting up a self-help service is a relatively low-cost way by which communities can own and operate their own local transmitter. SBS operates a Self Help Retransmission Subsidy Scheme to provide financial assistance to eligible communities to set up such facilities for SBS TV and Radio services. Find out more on the SBS Transmission website.