Satellite TV in your motorhome
In February 2014, the satellites beaming down English channels changed their broadcast areas.
In the British Isles this had no effect, but in Europe the change was dramatic. So where can you still get EastEnders in Europe?
Satellite TV transmissions in the UK began in the early 80s and, although the broadcasters might not have thought about it at the time, being able to receive British TV abroad, and in France and Spain in particular, was the icing on the cake for Brits who were spending time down there. Sunshine and warmth are all very well but, if you can’t watch a bit of British TV in the evenings, then what’s the point?
Until just a few years ago, even a small dish (such as a 40cm diameter unit) enabled you to pick up BBC TV and radio stations just about anywhere in Europe. Then, BBC, ITV and most of the other UK stations started transmitting from a new satellite, Astra 2D, and everything started to change.
A small dish just couldn’t pick up the signal down in southern Spain but the good news was that a high-quality system with a larger dish (85cm) could still pick up just about everything, just about everywhere – so that was alright then. This was despite the fact that the ‘official’ footprint map showed that the satellite signal would only just about cross the Pyrenees and that was if you had a dish over one-metre in diameter.
Things weren’t nearly as bad as we thought they would be and the footprint map was very pessimistic indeed. As you can see over the page, I’ve developed a more precise footprint map that aims to give a rough idea of where certain satellites can be detected and what size of dish would be needed for each zone.
This comes from experience built up over the last 12 years testing various systems, receivers and accessories and playing about with satellite TV equipment in my motorhome all over Europe.
These trips have included heading up to the North Cape of Norway and over to Iceland, down to the far west of Spain and Gibraltar and through Montenegro, Albania and Turkey.
The new broadcast region
In February this year, everything changed again. We’d been expecting it for well over a year but, even so, when it actually happened it was a big shock for tens, maybe hundreds of thousands of people who, while living on the Continent, rely on the UK for something decent to watch on TV. The key point here is that the changes only affects reception on the Continent, not reception in the UK.
Elsewhere in Europe, overnight, literally, British TV was turned off. Actually, the broadcast footprint shrank from what we’d become accustomed to, to something much smaller. The blue line on the map overleaf shows roughly where you can pick up all British channels using an 85cm dish, while the other map shows what you can expect if you have a 40cm sat-dome.
If you’re outside France and, in fact, even inside some areas of the country, to pick up all UK channels you’ll need a massive dish which is totally impractical to carry around except perhaps on a trailer and, if you’re in the south of Spain, you may well need a dish as large as three metres in diameter, which is not very practical for touring motorhomers.
Where you can get UK TV in Europe
If you’re in the south of Spain and you want to watch Coronation Street or EastEnders, you’re a bit stuck. However, if you want to keep up with the news, watch some sport or just enjoy slouching in front of the TV for a few hours and channel hopping, you can still do it. The website Kingofsat en.kingofsat.net has information on just about every channel on every satellite that’s broadcasting to Europe.
There are literally thousands of channels that you can tune in to and they include:
- BBC News World – available on Hotbird and Astra 1, amongst others, which can be seen anywhere
- CNN from the USA
- News from Canada, France, Russia and several other countries – all in English
- Eurosport – free on Astra 1
And on Eutelsat 28A at 28 degrees east – that’s what we’re looking at now – you can watch a good selection of British television. It may not be Premier League stuff, maybe the old fourth division but it’s something to sit down and relax in front of after a hard day on the beach.
This is an extract from a longer article in Summer 2014 MMM magazine. To order your copy, click here.