Confusion About Free UK Television in Spain - Freeview Or Freesat?

Published on 13/04/2010 in Expat Life

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 Costas 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 100plus 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, and 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.)

FreeviewFreeview 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 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 "Freeivew" set top boxes do not work in Spain correctly, as they are programmed for the UK TV service and not the TDT service.

For more on TDT in Spain, installations and equipment required, and the channels available, see: http://www.satandpcguy.com/Site/tdt_spanish_digital_terrestrial_freeview_spain.php

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 subscripion only on satellite. Remember You cannot receive Freeview in Spain!

Written by: Jon Worby

About the author:

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:

Tom OT said:
09 December 2012 @ 19:55

Hi Jon,
I have been successfully using an older sky box for rececipt of freeview channels in the Costa del Sol for some years from a standard 1m dish.
I understand the satellite signal cannot be received with this dish ans a 3m dish will be required. There are some physical constraints with thie size of dish on the building.
Can you offer any advice?
Thanks
Tom





mick buttery said:
22 April 2010 @ 12:30

dont know if this would help,i live in Manilva,about 20 mins from gib,i use freesat it was installed as a ome of payment of 295 euros connected to community dish,i get all the channels,itv 3/4 five,radio/films/shopping.
now and again it goes in bad weather [it is Spain ] would recommend it,hope it helps



como tu quieres said:
14 April 2010 @ 03:21

Yes in Costa Blanca some people have now lost all of the Uk Channels for the Third Time after some presidents +Vps thought they knew the best. Third contract for some €300+€6 monthly subs. Well another so called "with 10 years in business crook" managed to lay miles of cables,broke saveral seals of the electric meters, installed Two Large Dished blocking some home owners windows, then installing all the 200+ TV Club with a bank A/C in the name of the president individual dishes next to the previous dish and or Mash Aerials (Who needs X-mas Lights!!!) There is enough decor on their Spanish Roofs. So all good and now that there is AGM a new new president ousted the lot of them .) "you see they syphoned off €13000. by doing all those unnessary odd jobs like painting the "Plastic Doors" of the Electricity Meters++++." The Grand dishes managed to relocate a few times to clear the the window blockade and finally Aug.2009 they all got Cori and ++++ and told me Not to visit them when Cori is on (No Way thank you I have other better places to visit). On March18ththe newly appointed Administrators informed them that all was not well as the installers were NOT a legally registered company. The old president + promised to sort it all but the installers had gone back to UK with all the €20,000 in all finally on 31stMarch2010 Cori got blacked out The Policia Local pulled off the miles of cables.

So please make sure the installers (with their 20 years experience)are registered co.here in España and better to install your own dishes and be happy with what few Channels you get then pay out to the rouges again and again. Ignorance is No excuse in the eye of the Law.



satandpcguy (Jon) said:
13 April 2010 @ 18:37

Whoops.
LNB - Low Noise Block!

The worst thing about Freesat is that you can be limited in your main UK channels.
C4 and Five on freesat are only available as the same (or similar) times as BBC2 - even on "big dishes" - not 24/7.
But with a Sky card you have access to stronger frequencies for some Free to View C4 Fives and 8 ITV1 regions that you are able to receive on an 80cm dish!!
And, paradoxically, sometimes a big dish can cause loss of channels, as it picks up stronger frequencies and noise from neighbouring satellites!

"My advice to anyone is to find an installer that will take about an hour to check EVERY channel with his meter and not like most of the installers who point the dish in the right direction and pray that it is good enough."
When I first read this I thought you mean he will spend an hour checking each of the 500 plus channels individually!!!
To be honest he only has to check about 5 or 10 frequencies out of the 90 plus to ensure good reception.



satandpcguy (Jon) said:
13 April 2010 @ 18:26

Stephen: "The more common but not necessarily the best is a skybox which needs a sky viewing card to enable you to view some of the free to air channels "
No.
You do not need a sky card to view FREE TO AIR channels as they are FREE TO AIR. You can get all the free to air channels on a sky box (even with no sky card), a freesat box, or a generic free to air receiver.

BBC channels have been FTA for over 5 years now and do not need a SKy card to view on ANY satellite receiver box.

You do need a card for the FREE TO VIEW channels.

"As these boxes are not connected to the telephone line nobody knows where you are receiving the signal." - just like they cannot tell where you are using a sky box with no card or that is outside its 12 month contract with a card. A sky box and card need to be connected to a UK phone line for UK multiroom contracts and for Sky discounted UK installations. Not for installations where you but a sky box at "non discounted" price, or that is no longer part to a 12 month discounted sky installation agreement.

LNB - Low Boise Block



satandpcguy (Jon) said:
13 April 2010 @ 18:19

Stephen: "The more common but not necessarily the best is a skybox which needs a sky viewing card to enable you to view some of the free to air channels "
No.
You do not need a sky card to view FREE TO AIR channels as they are FREE TO AIR. You can get all the free to air channels on a sky box (even with no sky card), a freesat box, or a generic free to air receiver.

BBC channels have been FTA for over 5 years now and do not need a SKy card to view on ANY satellite receiver box.

You do need a card for the FREE TO VIEW channels.

"As these boxes are not connected to the telephone line nobody knows where you are receiving the signal." - just like they cannot tell where you are using a sky box with no card or that is outside its 12 month contract with a card. A sky box and card need to be connected to a UK phone line for UK multiroom contracts and for Sky discounted UK installations. Not for installations where you but a sky box at "non discounted" price, or that is no longer part to a 12 month discounted sky installation agreement.

LNB - Low Boise Block



Stephen said:
13 April 2010 @ 17:52

As usual nobody gives all the info you need on here. I am a user not an installer/expert. However to recieve "free" English TV in Spain there are 2 types of boxes. The more common but not necessarily the best is a skybox which needs a sky viewing card to enable you to view some of the free to air channels and costs £20 (one off) and MUST be sent to a UK address. This card now needs to be set up for your and only your box. The card enables you to see the encripted channels like Channel 4 and Channel 5 and their derivative channels like fiver, more 4 etc. As stated earlier Sky are changing their cards and if you do not re-apply at the same UK address you will lose the encripted channels. If you subscribe to Sky you are not allowed to bring your card out of the UK. Anyone caught, by Sky, using their card abroad will be cut off. Now with new cards/systems (subscription) Sky insist that your box is permanently connected to the UK landline. They make frequent checks and if your box does not "reply" the service is suspended/cancelled.
The other system is a BBC/ITV box with NO CARD. You will receive about the same number of channels although a few are different from the Sky box. I have found that the Humax HD box is the best value for money. For those that don't know, with a HD box you will get a slightly stonger/better reception even if your tv is not HD. As these boxes are not connected to the telephone line nobody knows where you are receiving the signal.
Another very important point is the LMB which is "on" your dish. There are different quality ones and you need expert advice on the best one for your system. The size of the dish is important but a big dish with a poorLMB can be worse than a smaller dish with a good LMB. Obviously a big dish with a good LMB is best. My advice to anyone is to find an installer that will take about an hour to check EVERY channel with his meter and not like most of the installers who point the dish in the right direction and pray that it is good enough.
Sorry that this has dragged on but thats the way I am



satandpcguy (Jon) said:
13 April 2010 @ 15:17

Martin:
Only one or two questions eh!
OK on satellite there are :
free to air channels - they dont require a card at all - include BBC channels, most ITV1,2,3,4 BBC News and about 200 others. you have not needed a sky card for the bbc channels for over 6 years now!!

free to view - require a sky card - these include some ITV1, C4, Five, Fiver Five USA and Sky 3.

subscription - pay per month to get subscription channels.

the free to view channels require a "freesatfromsky" card - £20 in the UK - more in Spain. Since April 2009 sky have been in the oprocess of replacing their sky cards. on the 1st March 2010 all blue yellow house cards were deactivated. So if you can get a new white sky card then your free to view channels will reappear.

also: see
http://www.satandpcguy.com/Site/itv_channel_4_four_five_small_dish_costa_blanca_spain.php
as this shows you how you can get ITV1 and C4 with a small dish with a freesatfromsky card. this is becasue there is not enough room on the satellite with all the free versions, and so these other versions are on another satellite with a stronger signal - but reecption is restricted to a UK sky card.

So no - broadcasters have not put any more restrictions in place. Its just your card needs to be updated. in fact the skycard version of Five can be received on an 80cm dish!

A Freesat box receives only free to air channels. Freesat and Sky use the same satellites and same frequencies. A sky box with no card will get the same channels as a standard freesat box. If you need a 2.4m dish for BBC in your area for a sky box then you will need a 2.4m dish for a freesat box.

Sky do not own satellite - they, and other broadcasters, rent space from the satellite operators.

Hope this helps.



satandpcguy (Jon) said:
13 April 2010 @ 15:07

Zena143:
Third party rebroadcasters or cables can charge whatever they want to for you to use their services, even if those channels are available for free by other means.

What the article is trying to do is to let people know that Freeview is not available outside the UK. But some of the channels that are on Freeview can be received outside the UK, via satellite (for free) or by third party (usually payment)



Martin said:
13 April 2010 @ 14:20

Thanks for the clarification Jon, maybe you can help further.
I have a house in Altea N Costa Blanca, I have a 1.2m dish and a sky box, a card I bought from the UK but no subscription, this was installed about 5 years ago. When installed I was told that BBC and ITV couldn't be received without a much larger dish (which I don't have room for) but I should get channel 5 and a fair amount of other channels - this was true for a couple of years but progressively has got more restrictive/limited. Now I can only get several of the news channels such as Sky News, BBC News, and literally 3 or 4 other channels. (channel 5 and its associated channels such as fiver has also now disappeared).

Question - have the broadcasters put more restrictions in place ? or does my equipment need updating ? Would I be able to get more channels if I switched to a Freesat box ? and if that is a good option can I simply buy one in the UK and take it down to Spain and plug it into my existing dish ? or does it need to be pointed in a different direction ? (is Freesat hosted on the same satellite as Sky ? ) Any help much appreciated



Martin said:
13 April 2010 @ 14:15

Thanks for the clarification Jon, maybe you can help further.
I have a house in Altea N Costa Blanca, I have a 1.2m dish and a sky box, a card I bought from the UK but no subscription, this was installed about 5 years ago. When installed I was told that BBC and ITV couldn't be received without a much larger dish (which I don't have room for) but I should get channel 5 and a fair amount of other channels - this was true for a couple of years but progressively has got more restrictive/limited. Now I can only get several of the news channels such as Sky News, BBC News, and literally 3 or 4 other channels. (channel 5 and its associated channels such as fiver has also now disappeared).

Question - have the broadcasters put more restrictions in place ? or does my equipment need updating ? Would I be able to get more channels if I switched to a Freesat box ? and if that is a good option can I simply buy one in the UK and take it down to Spain and plug it into my existing dish ? or does it need to be pointed in a different direction ? (is Freesat hosted on the same satellite as Sky ? ) Any help much appreciated



Zena143 said:
13 April 2010 @ 13:56

Hi John

I appreciate your article above but what about Fuengirola cable, this appears to be transmitting English channels, etc., can this be free or is there a payment involved.


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