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Saturday, April 21, 2012

BBC ITV on a 1 meter satellite dish - how long will it last? The Future of UK TV in Spain.

BBC ITV on a 1 meter satellite dish - how long will it last? The Future of UK TV in Spain.

Over the last few weeks I have been inundated with emails and phone calls from many people confused about what they have heard or read about the current availability of UK TV channels on a small satellite dish in Spain.

This has been made even more confusing with the usual Expat "bar talk" and with different “satellite installers” saying different things, some acknowledging that things will change, others not saying anything, and others being very “economical” with the truth.

So hopfully this will help confirm some of the facts and dispel some of the rumours about the availability of UK TV on smaller satellite dishes, and try to put forward what may well be happening with regards to the future of UK TV in Spain.

The reasons for reception of UK and Sky TV on small satellite dishes in Spain.
As many people are now aware a new “more powerful” satellite, Astra 1N, is providing a much stronger satellite signal that previously available. This has meant that many channels that previously required a large 1.8 metre satellite dish or a 2.4 metre satellite dish are now available on smaller 1 metre satellites dishes.

UK satellite TV has been transmitted from 4 satellites: Astra 2A, Astra 2B, Astra 2D and Eurobird 1.  These are located at 28.2-28.5 degrees east. Many of the main UK TV channels, such as BBC and ITV, were transmitted from the Astra 2D satellite.
The Astra 2D satellite had a tight reception footprint. This means that the further away from the UK you went the Astra 2D signal became harder to receive. To overcome this reduction is signal strength, larger satellite dishes, the 1.8 metre and 2.4m metre, are required in Spain for these signals.

The new UK TV Astra 2 Satellites and Astra 1N temporary mission.
Satellites need replacing, as they only have a finite lifespan. SES Astra, the Luxembourg company that own and operate the Astra satellites have said that Astra 2A, Astra 2B, Astra 2D will be replaced between 2012 and 2014. This was always been known as the expected useful lifetime of the satellites are published on the SES Astra website.

The UK TV satellite replacement process started with the launch of the Astra 1N satellite in October 2011.
Astra 1N, as per its “1” designation, was designed for 19 degrees east, and to provide more satellite capacity to that location that serves France, Spain and other European countries. However, in the short term, its mission was to help out with the replacement process of the Astra 2 satellites.

By February 2012, all the channels on the Astra 2D satellite were transferred over to Astra 1N. Astra 2D was coming to the end of its mission life and was also rumoured to be experiencing some transmission problems, meaning channels had to be transferred to another satellite.
Because it was designed for another location and not for UK TV, Astra 1N has a more “generous” signal footprint than Astra 2D. This has meant that many channels that previously required a large 1.8 metre satellite dish or a 2.4 metre satellite dish are now available on smaller 1 metre satellites dishes.

However, reception of these channels on Astra 1N is only temporary. SES Astra has confirmed the launch of Astra 2E in quarter 4 of 2012. When Astra 2E has been launched, tested, and positioned, it is expected that the channel s on Astra 1N will be transferred over to Astra 2E. Then, as SES Astra have confirmed, Astra 1N to be in its proper location, expected to be during 2013.

Reception in Spain of the new UK TV Astra satellites

In March 2012, SES Astra made reception footprints available for the three new Astra 2 satellites: Astra 2E, Astra 2F and Astra 2G. These footprints show that the new Astra 2 has a mix of both Pan European and UK “Spot” beams.
The Pan European footprints for the new satellites do actually show that reception of channels on this beam should be available in Spain using 80cm satellite dishes.

The UK Spot beam footprints for the new satellites do not actually show any meaningful data, and give no indication as to reception outside the UK.

Reception of this UK spot beam in Spain can only be speculated. Although the new Astra 2 satellites are more powerful than their predecessors, the amount of signal drop off at the edge of reception, in areas like Spain, is pure guesswork, at least until the satellites are operational.

Future UK TV Reception In Spain - Speculation and Guesswork
As SES Astra are aware of the requirements for the UK Spot Beams for its clients, including BBC and ITV, you can almost certainly expect those channels to be located on this UK Spot beam, just like the channels were located on the UK spot beam on Astra 2D. This means that the BBC, ITV and other broadcasters’ contractual obligation with content owners that requires that transmission of that content for reception in the U.K. and Northern Ireland, are satisfied. If channels are moved to this UK Spot beam, is is highly likely that they will not be available on the smaller satellite dishes like they currently are.

You can also expect that, with the advances of satellite beam shaping technology, the erroneous “sidelobe” of Astra 2D to be corrected. This sidelobe confusingly allowed reception of channels on smaller satellite dishes, like 1.25m and 1.4m dishes, in the Costa del Sol and Costa Blanca south, whereas north of these areas, in Alicante for example, 2.4 metre satellite dishes were required.
Not all UK TV channels will be located on the UK beam, so you will not lose all reception of UK TV. You can expect many of the Sky pay channels to be located on the European beams, just as they currently are today. This would certainly help Sky retain some revenue from the many expats who subscribe to the Sky Pay TV service. Although contractually, many Sky channels do not own the broadcaster rights to transmit programmes in Spain, by making reception of these pay channels harder would certainly mean less subscribers and thus less revenue for Sky.

Another reason for these new satellites for having Pan and UK beams could be to cover any future changes in broadcast right requirements within the EU. It could be that in the next decade, the EU could force all EU broadcasters to make all their signals available to all EU countries. Currently no legislation or law covers true Pan European broadcasting for all EU citizens. This is due to how broadcast rights are currently sold (on a country by country basis), and, as the EU has admitted during the recent "Pub vs The FA" court case, how complex it would be to deal with these rights contracts fo all EU countries as a whole. For example, how to overcome the issue where a few countries fund their public broadcasters via a tax or lisence fee, yet it would be unfair to make those signals available freely to other countries that have no legal requirement to fund that broadcaster.

In summary, reception of the main BBC ITV Chanel 4 and Five channels on a small satellite dish in Spain is only a temporary situation. With the launch of the first of three new Astra 2 satellites it can be expected that these channels will return to a UK Spot Beam in late 2012 or early 2013/2014. The size of satellite dish required for reception of channels on this new UK Spot Beam in Spain will be unknown, probably until the channels actually move onto this UK Spot Beam.

You can discuss and ask questions about this post by registering and logging into our forum at: BBC ITV on a 1m satellite dish - how long will it last? The Future of UK TV in Spain

Friday, April 20, 2012

Eurosport closes on the 30th April 2012 - Analogue version on Astra 19 to close

The analogue Eurosport service, available on Astra 1 at 19 degrees east, that also has English commentary, will stop transmitting and close on the 30th April 2012. The service will only be available in digital format.

More information

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Sky Boxes in Spain. Sky Digiboxes in Spain. Sky HD Boxes

Here are some of the Sky, Sky+, Sky HD and Sky+HD boxes and receivers that are used in Spain

Sky HD and Sky+HD Digiboxes

bskyb sky+hd DRX 890 DRX 895 digibox

Sky+HD DRX890 Digibox

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bskyb sky+hd DRX595 digibox

Sky+HD DRX595 Digibox

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bskyb sky+hd Thomson DS18215 digibox

Sky+HD Thomson DS18215 Digibox

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Sky+ Digiboxes  
bskyb sky+ pace 3100 digibox

Sky+ Pace 3100 Digibox

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Sky+ Digibox Pace TDS470N Sky Plus

Sky+ Pace TDS470N Digibox

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bskyb sky+ Amstrad DRX 280 digibox

Sky+ Amstrad DRX 280 Digibox

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Sky Digiboxes  
bskyb pace 2600 c1 digibox

Sky Pace 2600 Digibox

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bskyb pace DS430N digibox

Sky Pace DS430N Digibox

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bskyb Pace 440 445 digibox

Sky Pace 440 445 Digibox

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bskyb Thomson DSI4214 digibox

Sky Thomson DSI4214 Digibox

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Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Torresat rebroadcaster in the news for its illegal transmitter masts

Local TV provider Torresatélite is being taken to task over five broadcast antennas, which are believed to be illegal. The Councillor for Town Planning in Orihuela, Antonio Zapata, has announced that his department has identified five illegal aerials installed on the Orihuela Costa, owned by Torresatélite, which also dug a ditch six miles long without permission along the coast.

More information at

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Where has your satellite TV in Spain installer gone...?

A few years ago there were a number of people offering satellite TV installations along the Costas in Spain.

Recently I received an email from someone with a list of satellite TV installer’s websites that are no longer live. Presumably these people / companies are no longer installing satellite TV systems for one reason or another.

I know that some people have tried to contact some of these companies. Myself, I have had a number of calls from people who have tried to contact one or two of these people / companies with no joy.

All of these webpages were used by satellite tv installing comapnies in Spain, and are now returning a black or null web page.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

BBC to launch new HD and SD channels dedicated to London 2012 Olympic coverage

More than 10 million Sky homes will be able to watch the 2012 London Olympics through two dozen brand new BBC channels which will be dedicated to the BBC’s live coverage of the games. In addition, more than 5 million Sky homes with Sky+HD set-top boxes will be able to watch the coverage in stunning high definition (HD), to make their Olympics experience even richer and more immersive.

The innovative agreement will mean that Sky homes will have access to comprehensive coverage of this summer’s Olympics, with up to 24 live dedicated HD and SD channels running simultaneously at peak times during the games. The 48 brand new channels, which are being created specifically for the Olympics, will launch into Sky’s Electronic Program Guide (EPG) and will show every sport from cycling to archery, swimming to wrestling, tennis to the 100 metre final. Alongside coverage on the existing BBC channels, Sky homes will be able to enjoy 2,500 hours’ worth of live BBC coverage throughout the Games.

What’s more, because Sky homes will be able to view the channels via the Sky EPG, Sky+ homes will be able to record the coverage to watch at a time that suits them so that they can record every one of their favourite events and not miss any of the action.

As with the rest of the HD channels on the Sky platform, the new channels will be broadcast in 1080i and in wide-screen to enhance the viewing experience. The BBC’s Olympics coverage will also be accessible via the BBC Red Button.

Stephen van Rooyen, Managing Director of Sky’s Sales and Marketing Group, said: "The London Olympics is a huge event in 2012 and one that we are all looking forward to here at Sky. We believe that the best way to watch the Olympics is in glorious HD as it offers viewers the best possible viewing experience and, supported by Sky+, the flexibility of watching the action at a time that suits our customers. We’re delighted that every single Sky home will have the opportunity to enjoy unprecedented coverage of the biggest UK sporting event in a generation."

When watching the coverage with Sky+, customers will be able to record, rewind and replay crucial moments throughout the Olympics and also use this feature to record their favourite sports and events from the games automatically on their Sky box. The Sky+ Remote Record option also allows customers to set their Sky+ or Sky+HD box to record from mobile devices or the web.

The 48 new channels will be added to the Sports section of Sky’s Electronic Programme Guide from the 24th of July. The channels are free-to-air and available to any Sky home, including Freesat from Sky homes. The HD channels are available on any Sky+HD box and do not require a subscription, but do require an HD ready TV. Customers will require a Sky subscription in order to use Sky+.

In addition to the live Olympic coverage scheduled to broadcast over the 24 new BBC channels, comprehensive Olympic coverage will also be available on BBC One, BBC One HD, BBC HD, BBC Two, BBC Three and the BBC News Channel, of all which will also be available to all
10.3 million Sky homes.

The BBC’s dedicated Olympics channels are being made available to TV platforms on a non-exclusive basis. The BBC multi-feed coverage will only be available to Sky homes in the Republic of Ireland via the BBC Red Button.