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

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. debra youngs says:

    Hi is there anyway I can get English channels on TV in Spain and just pay for what I use when there as only there for holidays thanks Debra

  2. Hi Debra

    All you need is a satellite dish and suitable receiver to get FREE UK TV there are no monthly fee’s once you have your own dish. If you have SKY TV in the UK why not bring your UK SKY card on Holiday with you.

    MRSKYTV
    +34 618 585 051

  3. Alan in Aguadulce (Seville Province) says:

    6th December 2012.
    Happy Christmas, I have been informed by Free Sat installers that Free to Air Uk English Language TV will not be available in Spain from 16th December due to the reduction of the digital footprint of the new F2 Satellite, which takes over from Satellite F1 which had a large footprint. ( Much technical data.)
    I have a FreeSat box and a Sky Box and have been wired up from a very large Dish. However, I have lost channel 5 and all of it’s related channels and ITV 1 on the Free Sat box in the past few days.
    What is the latest info about this or is it just a hoax. If it is not is it another way to scam money out of expats who have invested a great deal of money in the past? More importantly why has none of this information been passed on through the ex-pat Press.

  4. freeviewspain says:

    Alan, this is not correct. The Costa Blanca area is still receiving Channel 5 on dishes as small as 1.1m. It appears the further west we go the weaker the signal. This used to be the opposite with Astra 2D, However the new satellite Astra 2F appears to have a different footprint, and some areas of Spain have gained, whilst others are significantly worse off! Most BBC and ITV channels will remain as they are until the 2nd quarter of 2013 as they are due to move to Astra 2E.

  5. freeviewspain says:

    Alan on another note, try a different post code on your Freesat receiver as not all ITV1 regions have moved.

  6. Hi, I’m curious to know if there are any British TV package/bundles offered by Spanish companies or if they are even starting to consider offering such services.
    Thanks

  7. Graham Collins says:

    We have been told that there will be no Sky Freesat on the Costa Del Sol after March 2013, is this true.

  8. Ben Alford says:

    Given the Changes to the Astra2 fleet this summer, We can no longer use dishes in the costa del sol, We are now fitting IPTV solutions from astra2.tv
    Dish size to get the channels in this area is at least 3.5m and this is just not practical.
    Have a look at the services offered by http://www.astra2.tv

  9. John Powell says:

    I just moved to a new finca and got myself an iptv box from a company on the costa del sol called UKEXPATTV.COM (A neighbour put me in touch and this has saved me installing a dish for just a few weeks viewing)

    I now get all the free to air channels and they have a catchup service where I can view the last 14 days of programs. For me all of this is better than my old satellite dish.

    Worth Checking Out – Regards from Coin

    • Thnsks interesting reading I’m heading down there at the end of the month to mijas costa, our apartment has a big sat on the roof so I’m interested to see the programe we have left, I have a old skybox down there? However I was thinking of taking a freesat box if that was an advantage?
      Is anyone else in the mijas costa area having problems?

  10. satandpcguy says:

    Flo: A sky box, even with no sky card, will receive the same channels as a Freesat box. They use the same signals for their channels, so the chances are that if you do not get a channel on the Sky box, you will not get it on a freesat box. However, saying that, there are some really poor sky boxes around.

  11. John Hopwood says:

    I have two places on the Costa del Sol. One has a 2 mtr dish and receives ok through a Sky box, although I anticipate losing channels when the new transponder is in operation.
    The second home has a 1.25 dish and this would not receive with a Sky box, but receives quite well with a Freesat box. I was told that the reason for this is that the Freesat receiver is a lot more powerful that a Sky box. If this is the case, is it likely that a Freeview Box with a 2 metre dish will possibly receive a decent signal when the transponder changes?

  12. It looks like a 3.1 dish may not be big enough on Costa del Sol, there is even talk of a 5M dish being required. Costa Blanca will not be affected and 1.4 Famaval dish will be fine.

  13. satandpcguy says:

    John Hopwood: True, some different makes and model of boxes perform better than others, but unless the Sky box is damaged, then it should receive the same channels as a Freesat box, since Sky boxes and Freesat boxes use the same frequencies for the channels they carry.

    Until the channels moved from 1N to 2E, which is expected to be late August / September, no-one can say for sure what sized dish will be needed to receive the channels on the new satellite, or what sized dishes will work and will not work in areas of Spain. And no two satellites are exactly the same.

  14. James Gold Marbella says:

    I just purchased IPTV box from mrskytv it is a freesat box and iptv box so we have now got CH5 back and Mrs Gold is happy, this box has no monthly fees and is 1080p HD picture, I have also connected my pc to the box over home router so I can stream movies on to the TV when the Mrs allows. Was easy to set up although I had to get a extra long cat5 cable from router to back of tv so the box is there. It looks just like a normal sat-box but allows you to connect to internet to watch itv bbc etc and there are also plug ins that can be added, am now able to watch the box on my laptop in the shed am now thinking about a better router and possibly upgrading the tv to one of these Samsung smart tv’s that myself & mrs gold looked at today in carrefour. I dealt with Jason Harding thumbs up from us.

  15. patricia van breemen says:

    This may sound “sad” but we are contemplating retiring to Nerja and to be honest I do not think I can spend my retirement evenings without my English t.v.. Do you think there will be ways around this when everything changes? Thank you.

  16. All, an alternative with your PC, MAC, IOS and Android devices is halovpn.com
    This allows you to connect your device via UK services and therefore gain access to all UK content such as BBC Iplayer, ITV, BT SPort etc

  17. hello sir ,i am anglophile that likes to wach british tv. i do live in lleida just outside and iam interested in getting one freesat box. could you help me to get me to the right direction in orther to get one since my sky box is playing up.tanks

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