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.
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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.
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.
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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