How to Watch UK TV in Spain
UK Satellite TV in Spain. UK TV Spain. British TV Spain. English TV Spain. Television in Spain. UKTVinSpain
In order to receive UK satellite TV in Spain, you will require :
a satellite dish – the size of dish required will depend where exactly you are in Spain,
a Low Noise Block (LNB)
and a digital satellite receiver / decoder – like a Sky digibox or a Freesat set top box.
The satellite dish collects the signals and reflects them to the LNB which collects the signals and sends then down the cable to the digital satellite decoder which then turns those signals into pictures and sounds.
Many satellite TV channels are available for free (with no subscription) and there are also Pay TV channels that require a viewing card and a monthly subscription – like the Sky TV channels.
Satellite Signals (North Beams, South Beams, UK Beams, Astra 2 Satellites)
The UK Satellite TV channels like BBC, ITV and Sky TV are broadcast from a series of satellites located at 28.2 to 28.5 degrees east.
Previous UK TV satellites have been Astra 2A, Astra 2B Astra 2C, Astra 2D and Eurobird 1 / Eutelsat 28A.
These satellites transmit signals aimed at Europe but the coverage on the ground varies considerably, due to the beams the satellites transmit their signals on.
The two old satellites, Astra 2A and Astra 2B, have two beams, a north beam and a south beam. The north beam is / was harder to receive in Spain than the south beam. This is why some UK Satellite TV channels were unavailable mid afternoon, even on the larger satellite dishes. Astra 2D had a narrow beam or spot beam, heavily focused on the UK. This beam used to carry the BBC and ITV channels, and this beam was the reason why areas of Spain like the Costa Blanca required big 1.8m and 2.4m satellite dishes.
It is also worth noting that the BBC TV, ITV, Sky TV and other channels on the satellite do not own any satellites; they just rent the frequencies on them from the satellite owners – Astra. It is, therefore, a misconception that “Sky change the signal footprints of the satellites” as in fact the signal footprints are determined many months before the satellite is even built!
The default transponder frequency setting for Sky TV in Spain is 11778, V, 27.5, 2/3 – Sky Default Transponder Frequency Settings
UK Satellite TV Changes
In February 2012, the channels on Astra 2D were migrated over to Astra 1N. Astra 1N was a temporary satellite, as Astra 2D was coming to the end of its operational lifespan. This has meant that many UK Satellite TV channels like BBC and ITV, that previously required a large 1.8m and 2.4m satellite dish, were available on smaller 80cm or 100cm satellite dishes in Spain.
In February 2014 the UK Satellite TV channels on Astra 1N were migrated over to Astra 2E, their new permanent satellite home. This has meant that reception of many UK Satellite TV channels like BBC and ITV changes in many areas of Spain. Some areas, like Valencia and the Costa Blanca, can still use smaller satellite dishes, but other areas of Spain now require the much larger 1.8m and 2,4m satellite dishes.
UK Satellite Reception in Spain
The reception of UK TV channels via satellite varies depending where in Spain you are and what sized satellite dish you have.
Getting UK Satellite TV Abroad. How can I watch British TV outside the UK?
A question we are asked many times – how can I watch UK TV overseas?
The main reason why UK Satellite TV is restricted to the UK, and not freely available abroad, is mainly down to broadcast rights, copyright and territories.
All TV programme producers sell their programmes to be broadcast in certain regions and countries. Broadcasters pay to show content in those territories, normally under some exclusivity deal. If these programmes were able to be viewed freely in other countries, then the programme makers may not be able to get sales from other countries channels…and therefore not make any money! Some channels are not so strict, as they rarely have such “copyrighted” material, and hence why such channels as BBC News and Sky News can be freely available around Europe.
You are only allowed to watch Sky TV subscription channels if you’re living in the UK Republic of Ireland. Sky will not accept subscriptions from outside of these areas, as they will only issue Sky TV subscription viewing cards to UK and ROI addresses.
As the satellite signals used by Sky TV are available outside the UK, due to the nature of how satellite broadcasting scan send a signal over a large area such as Europe, many of these programmes are encrypted and only available with a sky TV viewing card issued to a UK address.
Free to Air TV / Subscription Free UK TV in Spain
There are over 200 channels including BBC TV and ITV channels available to watch for FREE without any form of subscription. These are referred to as Free To Air (FTA) channels.
Many UK TV channels are available subscription free on satellite. Channels like BBC ITV Channel Four and Channel Five are all available without any form of subscription or viewing card.
It is NOT illegal to watch UK Satellite TV channel like BBC, ITV outside of the UK. It is generally accepted that signals designed to be limited to a specific country, like the UK, may “overspill” to other countries, and be able to be received with the relevant size dish.
The main UK broadcasters have to use this “weak signal” satellite for their channels to try and ensure that their channels are not easily available outside the UK. This ensures compliance, to the best of their ability, without affecting the reception in the UK, of their contract and copyright agreements with the programme makers.
However, it is still possible to receive and watch these free to air channels, even though the broadcasters have tried to limit their “reach” across Europe by having their channels on this weak signal, by he use of the big satellite dishes. As far as I am aware, you are not in breach of copyright laws by viewing them, as the signals are unencrypted, free, and the broadcaster has taken steps to limit the reach of these channels, then there is little that can be done.
In fact the Freesat official site says:
“Freesat is run as a UK service for television viewers in the UK. The broadcast signal is focused onto the UK, and Freesat equipment is only sold in the UK and requires a UK postcode to install. However, it may be possible outside the UK to use a satellite receiver to pick up channels available on Freesat. We recommend you take advice from a specialist satellite retailer or installer.”
Sky TV Systems
The main UK Satellite TV pay provider, Sky TV, also operates from the satellites at 28.2 to 28.5 degrees east. These channels are broadcast with encryption, and can only be viewed by the use of a Sky subscription card. The amount of channels that are “unblocked” will depend on the subscription charge you pay.
Sky TV and Sky Digiboxes allow you to receive and watch non-subscription and subscription UK TV channels. No subscription is required for the main UK TV channels, including BBC ITV Channel Four and Channel Five. But for pay tv channels like Sky One, Sky Atlantic, Dave, Discovery, National Geographic, Sky Sport, Sky Movies, then a Sky viewing card and a Sky subscription is required.
As far as I am aware, it is NOT illegal to use a Sky viewing cards or watch Sky subscription TV channels outside of the UK. However, you are breaking the terms and conditions of you Sky contract, which states that the Sky viewing card is only for use within the UK only. This is Sky’s method of ensuring that their contracts with the film, sports and other TV program makers is satisfied, as a Sky card can only be issued to a UK address.
UK Internet TV in Spain / UK IPTV in Spain
In recent years watching UK TV via the Internet has become more and more popular. Without the need of a satellite dish, TV channels can be watched using an internet box (eg Android or MAG box), with options for free and pay IPTV services.
Intelsat 907 – BBC SATBACK system
In areas of Spain like the Costa del Sol that are unable to receive the main UK TV channels like BBC ITV and Channel Four without using a giant 4m+ satellite dish, people have been looking for alternate ways to receive their UK TV. One method being used is the Intelsat 907 BBC SATBACK system.
Cardsharing Systems in Spain
Cardsharing is a method to use one satellite subscription card with more than one satellite receivers in a same time. In practical terms an original legitimate subscription card could be used in a receiver; then another box that is in another room, or even a thousand miles away, could access the smartcard via ‘local network’ or ‘internet’ to clear channels that the subscription card allows.
Cardsharing may be cheaper than using an official viewing card and subscription, but it is ILLEGAL. And despite UK TV installers in Spain saying these systems offer “All Sky TV Channels for less”, they DO NOT offer ALL Sky TV channels, as the Sky HD channels are NOT available on these systems.
High Definition (HD) / HD TV in Spain
To receive and view HD channels you will require a HD decoder and a HD TV. There are a number of free HD channels available, such as BBC HD and Channel4HD, and an increasing number of HD subscription channels. The number of HD channels is slowly increasing and eventually all channels will be in HD. There are two forms of HD, 720 and 1080. These refer to the number of lines of data the TV’s can replicate, so a 1080 HD TV provides a picture with more lines of data than a 720 HD TV, and thus a clearer and more defined picture.
Freeview / TDT
You cannot receive or watch UK Freeview in Spain. Freeview is not the same as Freesat – a common misconception. Freeview is transmitted in the UK only by the local TV transmitters, and is only receivable via a TV aerial, and Freesat is transmitted from satellites and only receivable via a satellite dish. So you cannot receive UK Satellite TV in Spain on Freeview or on TDT
The Spanish version of Freeview is TDT. Although it only broadcasts Spanish television channels, many programmes are available to watch in English.
See our TDT pages for more information.
Other Satellite TV Options
There are many other English satellite television channels available on other satellites, such as Arabsat, Nilesat, Astra, and Hotbird but the main UK channels are only available from one “satellite constellation”.
Choosing a Satellite Installer In Spain
Finding a satellite installer in Spain should not be such a problem, but choosing the right satellite installer can be.
European Laws regarding UK TV in Spain
There are numerous European TV Laws, with most integrated into EU countries national Laws.
Many of these European TV Laws are to standardise TV regulation across the EU Member States.
For example, standardizing the number of advert minutes per hour.
Legalities of watching UK TV Via Satellite and the Internet in Spain
Is watching UK TV in Spain legal?
A question that has confused expats living in Spain for several years.
And the answer is yes and no.
It all depends which UK TV channels, and how you watch them.