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Were ... you watching UK Free TV from the Astra satellites until last week?

Many of the UK top TV and radio channels move to their new home on the Astra 2E satellite last week. Many people who watch and listen to the BBC, ITV and Channel 4 and 5 services from outside the UK from these satellites now can not get a signal.

What can we do if we no longer can watch the BBC from satellite when we are outside the UK?  Photograph: Shutterstock
What can we do if we no longer can watch the BBC from satellite when we are outside the UK? Photograph: Shutterstock
published on UK Free TV

In many ways, it was never meant to be. The "old" Astra 2D satellite had a special "UK beam" that was meant to keep the satellite signals for British viewers roughly within our archipelago of Northern European islands.

However, the signals from 2D spilled all over Europe. A normal sized dish would pick them up France, and a 1.2 meter dish got many ex-pats and Anglophiles their dose of BBC and ITV as far south as Lisbon and the Greek islands.

Former Astra 2D coverage

Unofficially this was OK. The BBC was well funded, the content providers didn't really mind too much and UK licence-fee payers got a taste of home when on holiday or on business "on the contentment".

(This was never a problem for BSkyB, who still use pan-European satellites, because they restrict their services by the use of viewing cards sent out to the homes of people who can call their call centre from a UK or Ireland landline or mobile phone).

However, the Astra 2D satellite was on it's last legs: launched in late 2000 it was designed to last 12 years. Two new "birds" (as they are called) were planned to replace it: Astra 2E and, yes you guessed it, Astra 2F ( see Good news for Freesat? Astra 2E satellite launched).

Because of delays in launching, the Astra 1N satellite was put into the "Astra 2" orbit, and the services were quietly moved from 2D to 1N (New Astra 1N satellite to offer more UK-focused capacity - and soon, BBC satellite services moving to Astra 1N on 24th February 2012 ).

In the last month, Astra got the 2E satellite into orbit, and have now switched the services from 1N to 2E (Lots of fixes and updates to UK Free TV including Astra 2E and Comux) .

As Astra 1N wasn't really designed to provide a UK spot-beam (as they are called) the supposedly UK-focused beams were as easy to get in the rest of the EU as they always had been from 2D.

However, Astra 2E and 2F now have excellent spot-beam focus.

You can see details of which channel is on which bird here: Satellite footprint maps.

However, as BBC and ITV satellite moves cut off expat viewers - Recombu notes, this means that viewers outside the UK no longer can watch services they could.

Has this affected you? Comment below please!

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Tuesday, 18 February 2014
9:03 PM

Somewhere I read of a utopian entity which guaranteed free movement of goods and services to all its subjects. Believing such assurances to be unimpeachable, I would relish membership of such an entity. Does anyone have experience or further incontrovertible information thereof ???

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michael's 2 posts GB flag

9:21 PM

michael: Ah yes, the 89/552/EEC of 3 October 1989….htm :

The "Television Without Frontiers" Directive (TVWF Directive) is the cornerstone of the European Union's audiovisual policy. It rests on two basic principles: the free movement of European television programmes within the internal market and the requirement for TV channels to reserve, whenever possible, more than half of their transmission time for European works ("broadcasting quotas"). The TVWF Directive also safeguards certain important public interest objectives, such as cultural diversity, the protection of minors and the right of reply. In December 2005 the Commission submitted a proposal to revise the TVWF Directive.

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Briantist's 38,899 posts GB flag
11:00 PM

I can understand why UK public service broadcasters have switched a limited UK spotbeam on Astra 2 at 28.2 degrees East and it is largely to protect broadcast rights to the UK. If the UK public service channels permitted their signals to be seen across Europe unrestricted then programme providers and movie studios can insist on higher supply prices for their material or withdraw supply.

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Anthony's 1 post GB flag
Wednesday, 19 February 2014

12:42 AM

I assume UK radio stations can be received via the internet throughout Europe so an internet radio would solve that part of the problem ?

What about live UK TV streams ? Are they also available outside the UK ?

I suppose the only other alternative is to use something like the slingbox.

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PJH's 240 posts GB flag

4:29 AM

PJH a few UK stations but not all restrict their online internet audio streams online to people within the UK because of sports broadcast rights in the case of TalkSPORT BBC5L and BBC5LSE or music performing rights licensing issues.

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Anthony's 70 posts GB flag

4:31 AM

And the same issue exists with UK TV broadcasts online because of programme broadcasting rights issues too.

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Anthony's 70 posts GB flag

10:10 AM

Astra 2A is the next satellite to replaced by Astra 2G and it too has very similar capabilities with a tight UK only spotbeam and a wide pan-european footprint. The channels on 2A with no programme rights issues and unencrypted will probably use the pan-european footprint and that have to limit their output to the UK only will most likely use the UK only spotbeam capability.

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Anthony's 70 posts GB flag

1:26 PM

michael: I wonnder if you've ever heard of διαίρει καὶ βασίλευε? Divide and rule - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia .

To be honest, it seems a poor idea to me. But if you're happy to be bought out, I'm not able to stop you.

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Briantist's 38,899 posts GB flag
Tony Hill

3:54 PM

I have asked a friend who live in Mallorca about his experience and he replied:
"My existing dish is 1.60m and fine. My handy man has been working on 1.30m dishes which have lost some signals and by adjusting the LNB has restored the signal. There are also BBC and ITV regional signals that are stronger than others and might do the trick. A friend in Portugal has been asking for similar advice."
I don't know what "fiddling with the LNB" could do unless he changed it (perhaps) for a lower noise to signal ratio. Anyway, he also tells me that, as you would expect, there is a lot of talk amongst the UK expat community. Some information he has suggests that the Freesat signals are stronger than those from Sky (using a Sky box). Could this be so?

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Tony Hill's 65 posts GB flag
Tony's: mapT's Freeview map terrainT's terrain plot wavesT's frequency data T's Freeview Detailed Coverage

4:23 PM

Don't see how as it's the same signal from the same satellite.

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Ian's 497 posts GB flag
Ian's: mapI's Freeview map terrainI's terrain plot wavesI's frequency data I's Freeview Detailed Coverage
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