May 082015
 

Confusion About Free UK Television in Spain – Freeview – Freesat – Free to air – Free to view – Satellite TV in Spain for expats

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 shall explain it to you.

Many people, even 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 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.)

Receiving 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 received by a TV aerial. The UK Freeview signals are not strong enough to reach Spain.

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 40 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.

Free to air

However, many UK TV channels are available on “free to air” satellite systems. 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, and no viewing card is required.

You can receive free to air channels on just about any satellite receiver – including Freesat set top boxes and Sky Digiboxes.

Receiving 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 satellite dish and a digital satellite set top box. However, due to the satellite beams and frequencies used, the main UK TV channels such as BBC ITV Channel may not be available on smaller satellite dishes, and therefore much larger satellite dishes will be required. In some areas of Spain, like Valencia and the Costa Blanca a small 100x110cm satellite is the minimum required. For other areas of Spain, like Barcelona and Andalucía, a larger 1.8m or 2.4m dish is required. For some areas a satellite dish of at least 4m may be required to receive these channels.

It is worth noting that a Sky digibox without a Sky viewing card will receive the same channels as a standard Freesat digibox.

Both Sky digiboxes and Freesat digiboxes use the same satellite frequencies. So if you cannot receive BBC1 on a Sky box with your existing satellite dish, then you will not be able to receive BBC1 on your Freesat receiver with the same dish!

Free to view.

Free to view are channels that are available subscription free, but are encrypted and so require a satellite card to access. As at May 2015, there are only a handful of free to view channels – Motors TV, LFCTV, Sony Movies.

Free to view is not, as one satellite installation installer on the Costa del Sol says “is a satellite decoder which will give you all of the free programmes”.

So if a satellite installer in Spain says that they are able to install a UK Freeview television system for you, 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” for free on their system, as many channels available for free on Freeview are in fact subscription only on satellite. Remember You cannot receive UK Freeview in Spain!

Freesat in Spain

Freeview in Spain

  40 Responses to “Confusion About Free UK Television in Spain – Freeview – Freesat – Free to air – Free to view”

  1. I live in Mojacar Playa and have been happily using a Humax Fresat box and approx. 1 metre dish to get BBC etc. Now all gone. Would a stronger LNB do the trick?

    Many thanks

    • Changing LNB will usually only work if the dish is large enough to receive the signals in the first place.
      And for you, a 1m dish is simply way too small to receive BBC and ITVs where you are.
      You will be looking at a 1.8m or 2,4m dish at least, to receive the uk Freesat channels back again, as since they all moved to the new satellites in Feb 2014, your area has less signal than it did prior to their move.

  2. hi
    i live in bilbao, and i used to get freeview channels through astra 28.2e, but now i cant receive any of them anymore
    Which satellite should i focus my dish to?, and what size dich?

  3. On Saturday 9th January our TVs signal in Spain has dropped.
    There is a rumer that they have changed the satellite and it does not have the same coverage.
    I have a 1.8 meter dish
    Can you confirm the situation please

    • There have been no “changes of satellite” since mid 2015.
      UK TV is still coming from the same three UK TV satellites (2E,2F and 2G) as they have been since mid last year, when the last change happened, when channels moved to 2G.
      There are no plans for any other satellites for UKK TV for the next 15 years or so…when these three satellites need to be replaced.

      But what can, and has always happened, is channels can change frequencies, beams, and satellites.

  4. hi
    I live in north Tenerife what size dish will we need
    to receive itv bbc chn 4 etc

    thanks henry

  5. Hi there, I have returned to my holiday home in the Costa del Sol recently, to find that I also have lost the usual BBC and ITV etc freeviiew channels. I have been using a digitbox decoder with a freeview card in it. I am still able to pick up channels on it, such as Sky News and around 30 odd channels which I went through page by page. My dish size is l think a bout 1.5 m diameter. Could you please advise me what I may need to do to get the regular channels back. Many Thanks Dave

    • The Costa del Sol started to lost the free UK TV channels back in late 2013 and early 2014…
      You need a much larger dish if you want BBC ITV C4 and Fives via Sky or Freesat.
      In the CdS a dish of at least 3m, maybe larger.

  6. Am motorhoming Spain/Portugal/France can you please advise what setup I would need – thanking you, Roy

    • All depends what channels you want to watch.
      Most of the Sky pay channels can be received on a fairly small satellite dish – 80cm ish.
      But reception of the non Sky Pay channels, like BBC ITV C4 and Five’s varies a lot across those countries, some areas getting them on an 80cm dish, some areas needing 1.8m dishes, other areas needing 4m plus dishes for them.

  7. Hi, We have a house in Jimena de la Frontera, Cadiz. There is a fairly large satelite dish and receiver. Not sure of the size but it is quite large. We bought the house in December 2014. The receiver now only receives a few channels e.g. pick, sky news, etc. Do we need a new receiver, larger dish or realignment please.

    • All depends on what you mean by “fairly large satellite dish”
      For the BBC ITV C4s channels from the main Astra 2 UK TV satellites, you will need a very large dish – say 3 or 4 or 5 meters in that area.
      But for other channels, there are about 50ish free channels that you should still be able to receive (like Pick, Challenge, Sky News and many more that you probably will never watch) on a smaller 1m ish dish. As well as quite a lot of the Sky pay channels, should you subscribe.

  8. I may be the exception to the rule, but I have just bought a property in Spain which already has a SkyBox and dish installed. I actually want to receive Spanish TV to help me learn the language, can I use the same dish for Sky and local channels?

    • A Sky digibox will only work with UK TV, and the UK TV satellites (located at 28 east).

      Spanish satellite TV comes from different satellites (Astra 1 at 19 east or Hispasat at 30 West) and requires a Movistar+ subscription.
      Although it is possible to get both 19 and 28 on the same dish, it would be best to get another dish 60-80cm and the required Movistar+ receiver and card and subscription.

      Or with a TV aerial, and terrestrial digital tuner, you can receive over 30 TV channels, subscription free. With the bonus of if the programme is from the UK or USA, 99% of the time you can change the dubbed Spanish audio into the original English.

  9. we live in san pedro Marbella and no broadband how can we get bbc ecetra will a gi hd sat box help

  10. Can I bring a TV bought in the UK to my place in Costa Blanca? It will obviously been a converter plug but is there any difference between UK & Spanish TV’s?

    • Apart from the power plug, the TV should work fine.
      But you can find some Freeview branded UK TVs may not work 100$ with the Spanish equivalent.
      But it will work fine via external devices like a Sky or Freesat set top box

  11. Just returned home (costa Blanca) to discover my sky doesn’t work anymore. It’s showing a no satillite signal received message? Any ideas…. I’m thinking the frequency has changed again? Many thanks.

    • What frequency has changed?
      UK TV channels on a Sky digibox use approx 100 frequencies. Which frequency the digibox uses depends on which channel you have selected to watch.
      And the default transponder (the frequency used by the digibox to download the channel list when the box is first powered ion) on a Sky digibox has always been 11778.

      If you are getting “no signal” messages then it can be down to a number of things : dish too small for your location, dish has moved out of alignment, dish has warped, LNB failure, insect inside LNB (on larger 1.8 and 2.4m dishes), cable connection issue, cable issue (split in cables letting in water and shorting the system) and receiver issues.

  12. Hi, i was wondering if you could help me on a slightly related topic. I live in New York & want to get UK free to air channels. Is it as simple as putting a dish on the roof, pointing it in the right direction (towards the Astra satellite) & getting a set top box? There is not a great deal of demand for it over here wheras on the continent everyone seems to want to do it. Am I too far away geographically? Any help or advice would be appreciated! Thanks

    • Hi
      You will not be able to receive the UK FTA channels via satellite in the US.

      Bearing in mind that a man in Brazil needed a 9m dish for the analogue Astra 1 channels, the size of dish you would need for the Astra 2 digital channels would have to be HUGE… The signals simply do not reach that far away. The only way would be via internet or IPTV ( http://www.satandpcguy.com/iptv-internet-tv/ )

  13. Hi I have an apartment in Spain guardamar del segura and have to with freesat box we use to get some English channels and some Spanish but this last year we can’t pick up anything, what do we need to do to make it work?

    • Hi, Firstly there are no Spanish channel on Freesat, since Freesat is UK satellite system carrying mainly Uk channels. So if you had UK channel and no longer have them, then perhaps it is your dish that needs a small realignment, assuming it is large enough for your area for UK Freesat channels.

      • I am surprised that non of you deem to be using Arabsat at 26 east. Try 11911 H for the MBC channels in English, Fox movies, BBC News etc.

  14. Hi, In the past week or so we have started and now with more regularity getting the message’ The receiver is not receiving a signal or the signal is to weak’ only channel 5 sometimes but nothing else! We are in La Drova.

    • So either your dish is misaligned, your dish is too small for your location, your LNB is failing, or your cable and or connections are poor, or your receiver is on the way out…. as there are no issues with any of the signals from any of the UK TV satellites.

  15. Hi, have connected my Humax Freesat box from UK to our house in Javea. We have a large dish and the picture quality Is great (although no ITV HD?). We still get BBC South but you can only record 1 channel at a time which suggests only one tuner is being used. Can I perform retune with my UK postcode? Or will it need a Spanish code but then I would lose BBC South? Many thanks.

    • “a large dish” – you need to say how large a dish… ITV1HD need a min of 110x120cm dish in Javea…and that is classed as a small dish. If you have a dish of at least this size and still cannot get ITV! HD, then it will be a dish alignment issue

      “but you can only record 1 channel at a time which suggests only one tuner is being used.” – A Freesat box can record two channels at a time, using a single cable feed from the dish, as long as those channels are on the same frequency group. Trying to record two channels on different frequency groups using one cable will not work. Ideally you will need two cable feeds from your dish to your freesat box (assuming it is a twin tuner model). If you already have two cable feeds from the dish to your receiver, then either one cable is not working, or your box is in single cable mode, and only a reset and go thru the freesat install wizard again will activate input 2.

      “Can I perform retune with my UK postcode?” – yes.

      “Or will it need a Spanish code but then I would lose BBC South?” – Freesat is designed for UK TV, and so it will not work with a Spanish postcode, as your Spanish postcode will not help the box determine which BBC ITV1 and C4 regions to allocate on 101, 102, 103 and 104.

  16. I am trying to get some English TV channels to a property in Denia.

    Can I just connect an old English SKY box or do I have to have a satellite dish as well?

    • Sky TV comes from satellites, so you will need to connect your box to a satellite dish, that is large enough to receive the channels you want for where you are (a 110x120cm dish will be good enough for the free BBC ITV C4 and Five channels), and aligned to the correct satellites.

  17. Hi, here in the Catalan Pyrenees, about 30 km south east of Andorra, with a 1,20 m dish, we receive the usual FTA BBC 1 etc, but ONLY around Christmas, and I think some of August.
    Would you say a 1,80 m dish would get these channels all year round?
    The only FTA channels we do get all year are Sky news, CNN, etc, ( basically all except UK channels). Thanks.

    • Sounds like your current dish is just beyond the minimum requirement for stable reception. So yes a larger dish should help. But first it may be an idea to see if another LNB or even a realignment can help (your dish may not be aligned as well as it could)

      • OK, I did try realigning the dish – no success. But the signal strength and quality test shows a stable reading of around 90%.
        We’re using a Pace box and I don’t remember the LNB make, but I think it’s one if the good ones for fringe reception – though it must be about 10 years old now. I suppose it’s trial and error whether a bigger dish , or better LNB, would give a stable year round signal. Thanks.

        • “the signal strength and quality test shows a stable reading of around 90%.” – if this is the signal screen on a Sky box, then this may not necessarily be showing the signal for the frequency you want. Most times it shows the signal for the Sky Default Transponder frequency of 11778.
          I would think the larger dish would give better all round signals, as a new LNB will only work if the dish is large enough to receive a good signal in the first place.

  18. The main issue I see with a dish of 1,80 or 2m is the huge price. Up to 1,20m seems affordable, but anything bigger and the price sky rockets.
    I even thought of trying to make my own. Thanks

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