New channel gives Europe access to English language shows

A German station has gone on air this week with the unique selling point of broadcasting a selection of US and UK programmes in their original (English) soundtrack with German subtitles.

ProSieben Maxx, the latest offshoot from established German broadcaster ProSieben, launched on the 3rd September 2013 and is available free-to-air across much of Europe via the Astra 1 satellite position (19.2 degrees East). It is the only German channel to offer such a service on a free-to-air basis. The channel is also the home to dubbed programmes from BBC Earth, including Deadly 60 and Planet Earth as well as German language programming from its parent channel.

Programmes being broadcast in English during the channel's first two weeks on air are Showtime's Homeland, BBC Two's Episodes with Matt LeBlanc and Sky 1's comedy series Spy.

UK viewers with standard Sky or Freesat set-ups won't be able to watch the channel, but anyone in the UK and Europe with a satellite set-up for Astra 1 can tune in immediately.

German public service broadcasters have broadcast selected films in "two channel sound" [Zweikanalton], since its introduction in the mid 1980s, with an option to listen to the original language soundtrack on terrestrial and cable broadcasts. However, broadcast rights issues affected the availability of this service on satellite. Spanish digital terrestrial services also offer an original language soundtrack.

The move by ProSieben may partially fill the void that will be created in the coming months when more UK free-to-air channels move to the new Astra 2E satellite, making access to UK TV and access to top shows in English from both sides of the Atlantic more difficult.

Astra 2E is expected to have a tighter UK spotbeam. Last year, the transfer of UK services to the Astra 2F UK spotbeam resulted in the loss of  reliable reception of some UK channels in parts of Europe. The main UK free-to-air broadcasters are however seeking to reduce continental overspill reception due to broadcast rights issues and costs.

ProSieben Maxx
Astra 1 (19.2 degrees East)
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