Guide To UK TV in Spain – Freesat, Freeview and Free UK Television in Spain

Many people are confused about whether they can receive free UK television in Spain.

The subject of what UK channels you can receive is something we are always being asked.

Terms such as free UK television in Spain, Freeview and Freesat are always cropping up so we ask expert satellite installer Jon Worby to explain it to you.

Confusion About Free UK Television in Spain

Many people, including satellite installers in Spain, get confused about Freeview and Freesat.

If satellite TV installers are unable to get their terminology correct, then no wonder British expats on the Costa’s in Spain are getting more and more confused about how to receive UK TV in Spain.

As British expats move to the warm coastal areas of southern Spain in the Mediterranean, they find it frustrating that they are not able to watch the UK television programmes such as BBC1, BBC2, ITV1, Channel 4 and Channel 5, or the other 100 plus other UK TV channels, including Sports, movies and news, that are available to view for free.

Although they try to watch local Spanish television channels, some feel the quality of programmes on Spanish TV is not that good as UK TV, they do not show many popular UK TV programmes like Coronation Street or Eastenders.

Not all programmes are available in English, (although the switch to Digital Terrestrial Television – TDT – has meant a lot more UK and USA imported programmes are available in English.)

Freeview in Spain

Freeview is a free digital TV package that is available to people living in the UK.

Freeview logo (image hosted by gadgeteer.org.uk)It is not, like many people say, available outside the UK especially Spain.

You cannot receive Freeview in Spain.

Freeview is a UK only digital television system that is transmitted from the land based television transmitter masts, like Emley Moor and Crystal Palace.

The signals from these terrestrial transmitters are not strong enough to reach Spain.

Many UK TV channels are available on “free to air” satellite systems. British expats around Europe can watch their favourite UK TV channels for free via free to air satellite in Spain.

Free to air means that there is no monthly subscription to pay, unlike the pay TV channels offered on satellite packages offered by Sky TV.

Freesat in Spain

Freesat is the name of a brand of satellite receivers designed to receive these free to air UK satellite television channels.

Freesat logo (image hosted by satellitesandaerials.co.uk)You can also use a Sky digibox or any other digital satellite receiver to receive the free to air signals.

A Sky digibox without a viewing card will still be able to receive BBC and ITV channels, and all the channels a Freesat receiver can receive.

You can receive many of the UK free to air TV channels by installing a small satellite dish and a digital satellite set top box.

However, due to the frequencies used, the main UK TV channels such as BBC and ITV may not be available on these small satellite dishes, and therefore much larger satellite dishes will be required, from 1.8m to 2.4m.

Spain does have its own version of Freeview, called Television Digital Terrestrial – TDT.

Using a TDT set top box, you are able to receive around 30 digital Spanish television channels via your TV aerial on your roof.

The digital aspect allows a much clearer picture than the old analogue TV system, and has the option to change the Spanish dubbing soundtrack on UK and USA imported programmes into the original version.

It should also be noted that some UK “Freeview” set top boxes do not work in Spain correctly, as they are programmed for the UK TV service and not the TDT service.

So if an installer says that they are able to install a UK Freeview television system for you in Spain, ask them a few questions. As Freeview is a service received by a TV aerial, then why are they installing a satellite dish?

Will you able to receive all the UK Freeview channels, like “Dave” and Sky Sports News, for free on their system, as many channels available for free on Freeview are in fact subscription only on satellite.

Remember You cannot receive Freeview in Spain!

Important Changes to Satellite TV in 2013

Given the changes to the Astra2 fleet this summer, you can still use dishes in the Costa del Sol but they now have to be at least 3.5m which is not practical for most people.

The second of three new UK TV satellites is expected to be operational in September 2013. Until the satellite is up and running and transmitting, no-one can know exactly what size satellite dish will be required to receive its transmissions in Spain, so any comments on its reception is purely speculation.

Although you may use the first new satellite, 2F, as a benchmark, there is no way of knowing if 2e will be exactly the same, or have exactly the same reception in Spain until it is operational.

As someone said to me even identical twins are not 100% identical… But we will have to wait until around September 2013, when the BBC ITV C4s are expected to move to 2E, the second new satellite to know for sure.

Yes the Costa Blanca (Alicante / Valencia) are has been “lucky” and not noticed any drop in reception from the first new satellite…in fact I and some caravanners are still getting the channel that moved in December on an 80cm dish in some areas!) but is this by designed, damage to the reflectors, or luck?

And you will NOT lose ALL channels, as many UK channels are on a “pan European” beam, and some on a satellite not operated by Astra. Internet TV may be an option for people who do not want “big dishes” (in Greece and Cyprus they have been using 4m dishes for the last 10 years!) , but it certainly cannot beat the quality of a direct from satellite system.

For more information contact Jon Worby via http://www.satandpcguy.com – who has been installing and maintaining digital satellite and TV systems on the Costa Blanca for many years.

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Comments

  1. B. Tomlin says:

    I have Sky TV in France and my Sky Box has packed in. Can I buy a digital TVtop box here in France and use this to pick up Sky or does it have to be Sky or free sat box?

    • satandpcguy says:

      If you want to watch the Sky pay channels, then you will need a SKy digibox for use with your sky viewing card.
      If you only want to watch the free UK TV channels, then a Freesat box, a Sky box or any other “free to air” satellite receiver will do

  2. satandpcguy says:

    What TV do you want to watch?
    Spanish TV is available via a TV aerial (the Spanish equivalent of the UK Freeview service. And no need for a separate box as these days most TVs have the receivers built in. You will only receive Spanish channels, but if they show a UK or USA import then you can in most cases change from the dubbed Spanish audio, to the original English audio with just a press of a button on your TV remote.
    Things get tricky in that are for UK TV…you will need either a very large (like 3 or 4m!) satellite dish for the free UK TV channels like BBC ITV, a smaller (125cm) dish for most of the Sky pay channels, or look for an internet based system (a paid IPTV Mag box service), or see if there is a local “rebroadcaster” in the area.

  3. Hello. I have just bought a place in Torremolinos and looking for the best device to buy to watch TV. I like the idea that you can switch of the dubbing in certain TV box. Can any one recommend me a TV box. Thank you. Or the best way to get TV.

  4. Karen Hall says:

    Any ideas about linking an ariel system to a boat or should I just rely on the internet?

    • satandpcguy says:

      “arial system” – do you mean a TV aerial or a satellite dish system?
      Do you intent to use it when out at sea (in which case you will need a very good stabilising gyroscopic system), or when at port (in which case the aerial and dish can be installed on the land?)

  5. Vicky gent says:

    Hi I have a sky box and a big dish which worked for years and now it doesn’t it just says no signal. I’ve been told that the satellite has moved. Would a free sat work or do I need Wifi? I’m only out about 2 weeks of the year so don’t really want to pay a subscription, can you help?

    • satandpcguy says:

      Vicky,
      No satellites have “moved” for the last few years.
      If your Sky box is not getting a signal for channel like BBC ITV, etc then a Freesat box will also not get a signal – Sky and Freesat boxes use the same satellites and same signals.
      Your “no signal” could be down to a number of things : the dish has moved, the LNB has failed, there are insects or debris inside the LNB, cable connections are poor, cable has split and let in water, or yes, finally you sky box has gone.
      No point getting a tv via intenet if your dish set up just needs a bit of TCL…

  6. jason conlon says:

    hi i have an apartment in benalmedina across from the casino. i have a freesat box but need a satalite dish supplied and fitted aneone know of somewhere that could do this for me and an approx cost thanks

  7. Pete bignell says:

    I have sky in Mallorca and works perfectly,a and records through two lines, if I bought the sky free sat would this work and record.

    • satandpcguy says:

      Sky and Freesat are two separate systems.
      A Sky digibox can receive the free channels even without a Sky viewing card.
      A Sky digibox can receive the subscription free, but encrypted channels using a non subscription “free to view” “Freesat From Sky” viewing card.
      A Sky digibox can receive the Sky Pay channels with a Sky subscription viewing card.

      A Freesat box is designed purely for the free UK TV channels, and has no ability to use a Sky card.

      Sky do operate a few free channels : Sky News, Pick and Challenge…. which are available on Freesat

      To record on a Sky digibox you need a Sky subscription.

      On a Freesat+HD box, you can record the free uk tv channels without any subscription

  8. Steve H says:

    Have a house just above Benalmadena and it had a dish on the terrace and a sky box which picked up Sky News and about 15 other random channels, I have moved the dish over to anothe side from the terrace as it was an eyesore. I intend on setting it up over there. How technical would it be getting the direction right as I know the direction it was pointing etc. Also I have brought another box over from the uk, do I have to change any settings ?? many thanks. Sky news is all I really want.

    P.S just bought a “Smart Telly” is it possible to plug straight into this instead of the sky box ? thanks

    • satandpcguy says:

      Sky News is on the European beam of the UK TV satellites, and should be fairly easy to pick up.
      I doubt you can align it without some sort of meter – even a basic “beeper” should be better than no meter.
      But you could always try a phoneapp like dishpointer.com to get close to where you need to align to…

      Once the dish is on the UK TV satellite, then the box you have from the UK should work fine… if a sky box, plug in and go, a freesat box then plug in and follow on screen instructions. Other boxes you will have to perform a channel scan using the receives menu system

  9. Louise Millard says:

    We have a house in Jimena de la Frontera and will be moving to live there early next year. We currently have a very large satellite dish which only receives Sky News and Pick TV. Can we re align the dish and get a new box? What is the best option to receive UK TV freesat channels please. We are there again at the end of October and would really like to get it sorted out then.
    Thanks

    • Hi, I currently use a mag 250 box and subscribe to expat vision which can be paid monthly (but I got a very good discount from them when I signed up for annual payment) Its been over a year now that Ive been with them, and have no issues with receiving my Uk tv which has over 200 channels, also a video library with over 800 films to watch at no extra cost plus box sets and radio! I couldn’t be without my mag box and highly recommend them for easy use! it really is like having sky again, but better because its so much cheaper! I also got the box from the expat vision website.

  10. John Hutcheson says:

    Is there much fibre work out there as I’m looking at doing a full fibre course with in the next few months to add to my satellite/cable TV work.

  11. satandpcguy says:

    garethemery : A Sky card will work in most sky boxes for the “non premium” channels.
    For the premium channels, like Sky sports, sky movies and sky hd channels, then the card HAS to be paired to the sky box.
    Also note that some sky pay channels are on the same UK beam as the “terrestrial” channels, so may also not be available to you.

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