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!