Migration of main UK channels onto Astra 2E complete

Mini-dish coverage area
All remaining ITV and Channel 4 services have migrated to the new Astra 2E satellite during the early hours of this morning, completing the move of the main UK free-to-air broadcasters to the new UK spotbeam.

The changes, which occured after 0300 GMT mean that many viewers, including expats, who benefited from out-of-area reception in Spain, Portugal, Italy, Austria, Czech Republic as well as some parts of Germany, Denmark and Norway have now lost access to all of the main TV networks via satellite.

Only a few viewers, especially in and around the Valencia/Alicante area of Spain, can still access these channels thanks to a thin sidelobe around the side of the UK spotbeam.

Thousands of affected viewers flocked to the a516digital website last week, when the BBC had most of its channels switched to the the new satellite, and viewers lost signal.

Channel 5 was the first of the main 5 UK TV networks to switch to the new spotbeam, along with Channel 4 HD and some ITV regions, when they migrated to sister satellite Astra 2F at the end of 2012.

Viewers within the British Isles receiving satellite TV through Sky and Freesat are unaffected by the changes, and only witnessed a very short break in transmission as the channels switched satellites.

ITV/STV/UTV services on satellite: manual tuning reference guide

Special coverage
On Thursday 6th February, the BBC’s services on Astra 1N moved to their permanent home on Astra 2E.

a516digital investigates and compiles a coverage map with dish sizes.

European viewers lose more UK channels as ITV organises its HD channels on satellite.

Your questions, your answers

NEW Why do I lose my reception in the evenings?
A special Q&A looking at why reception of UK channels abroad can vanish in the evenings.

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  1. The only channel really gone seems to be ITV1 and the +1 versions, all other, ITV2,3,4,ch4,E4,more4,Film4 are still there in there encrypted HD version. So SKY is going to see a significant rise in subs soon. Blanes, 60 km north of Barcelona, 90cm. Astra 2E spotbeam needs 4m+ here.

    1. The channels you mentioned are currently hosted by Sky on the Europe beam as part of the Sky HD service. (Does not include ITV (1) HD.)

  2. Thought it might be useful to post this here as some people may get channels back...

    Levignac, nr Toulouse. All the BBC HD had gone, along with some regions prior to 10/11 could still get some BBC regional (York, Scotland).

    However we have had C5 since the 2012/2013 change so assume we can get Astra 2F - will a tweak of focus find Astra 2E once 1n is off?

    1M dish currently installed with very old LNB, going to upgrade LNB and cable (want to add twin for Humax anyway). Tweaked focus over weekend and get much better signal but suspect from 1N

    Know others within the same general areas with 60-80cm dishes also without the above channels, assume they will need at least 1m if not 1.2m

    Update to above
    Overnight 10/11 after the switch of the remaining channels... All BBC and ITV channels are back - BBC HD 1/2 badly pixellated with <50%Q but BBC News HD 100%Q.

    Assuming that the old Sat 1N turned off and the receiver was then able to get the new 2E sat stream, have new LNB and twin cables to fit anyway so a tweak should bring HD back.
    Also had reports in this area TLS of channels back with 80-90cm dishes, remains to be seen if it is stable.

    1. I live in Terni, Umbria (about 90km N of Rome). As many others, I lost all signals with a 120 cm and either very good LNB or sat receiver.
      I'm not an expat but I was fond of watching UK channels and, as many of you, I wrote both to BBC and ITV getting what I consider a "political" response. Only UK channels has this legal issue about overspill? Our channels simply encrypt what cannot be broadcast by sat. And German public channels broadcast always and whatever.
      Among the other topics I used to these broadcaster there is that this decision is undemocratic also because the rich or wealthy people will afford to buy larger dish; the other won't.
      I think that this issue is too big not be brought to the attention of someone at the UK Parliament or EU parliament. There is also the change.org website to sign a petition but I don't know how much effective would this be. The political way it's the only with little chances, in my opinion.
      Meanwhile, would be very important to have a clear table of reception reports and this is my prayer to our a516digital moderator.
      My only hope is, in fact, that a 180 cm dish could solve the problem. Otherwise it'll be a disaster. But you cannot "try on" a dish so big just to know if it works!

    2. All channels do have issues with overspill.

      As a result, RTÉ of Ireland is encrypted on Astra 2E and restricted to Sky viewers in Ireland. Their Saorsat service offers free access to the channels via a new method of satellite distribution where overspill is restricted to the western fringes of England and Wales.

      In the Netherlands, their main PSB channels are encrypted on satellite.
      In Norway, NRK is encrypted via the Astra 4 satellite.
      In France, the channels are encrypted.
      Many Polish channels are also encypted.
      The same is true of Austria's ORF, although some programmes on ORF 2 are available in the clear via its ORF Europe service.

      Germany is one country that is different in this regards, and even here broadcasters have often avoided broadcasting the English soundtrack of films on satellite. The German "Zweikanalton" system from analogue TV offered viewers the chance to watch films in their original soundtrack. But broadcast rights issues prevented this service being offered on satellite.

      Simply put, the cost of broadcasting a programme in English across Europe attacts a higher fee than broadcasting the same programme in German across Europe. The fact that it is in German means it is effectively "encrypted" to most of the rest of Europe.

      In Italy, channels encrypt when they broadcast something that can't be broadcast freely on satellite. In the UK, such an approach would freeze out Freesat viewers - a service specifically set up by the BBC and ITV to provide satellite TV free from the control of Sky, which until the launch of Freesat had almost complete dominance over satellite TV.

      Viewers in many parts of Europe have been fortunate so far, as satellites serving the UK haven't had an effective UK spotbeam so far. Astra 1N was a stop-gap solution because Astra 2D (the first UK spotbeam sat) was failing and needed replacing, and offered too much overspill into Europe.

      Broadcasters are under no obligation to make their channels available across Europe. Viewers who can receive the free-to-air channels direct via satellite overspill within the EU are allowed to watch for domestic purposes.

      Until BBC One and Two became available via overspill on satellite, the BBC Prime channel contained LIVE programmes simulcast from BBC One (Good Morning with Anne and Nick, Noels House Party, Eurovision), plus a mixture of current and archive material and the overnight BBC Two Learning Zone strand. It was very much the best of BBC One and Two for expats in Europe. With the expats choosing to get BBC One/Two and more directly from UK satellite, BBC Prime moved its focus to non-English audiences and became BBC Entertainment.

      My opinion is that the BBC's commercial arm should be looking at overhauling the version of BBC Entertainment channel available in western Europe, to appeal a bit more to the expat market who have lost direct, legal access to the BBC, as there is now a substantial market potential.

      Perhaps same energy should be aimed at BBC Worldwide to improve their international offerings. Same too of ITV, who through the ITV Choice channel offer access to ITV shows including Dancing on Ice, Emmerdale, Coronation Street and Paul O Grady, to viewers in Malta, the Middle East and further into Asia. Perhaps the channel could be made available more widely in the Mediterranean?

      The BBC was piloting a Global iPlayer on monthly subscription. The Daily Mail newspaper found out the annual cost would be less than a UK licence fee and had a tantrum about it (despite the Global iPlayer not offering live streaming of channels, live sport or access to imported films and dramas shown on the BBC in the UK), and the project to offer BBC on demand content has gone quiet of late.

      A summary of reception reports is planned to go live over the weekend.


  3. A shame. Cunit, 50 km South from Barcelona, has lost all ITV and 4 channels. My satellite receiver has become a piece of junk in just 5 days. I still think there should be a way to keep watching British TV. I'm currently trying alternatives, but they're nowhere near the quality that we were used to. Any help or advice would be more than welcome.

  4. Alex - Cuneo ITALY
    in the last 2 days, weather sunny, 100cm dish and multiswitch system that is probably worsening the signal strenght, BBC 1-2-news-channel4-5 visible only at daytime. Hi pixelation at night. HD lost completely.

  5. piacenza 70km south of Milan...100cm dish with old pace box....100% reception day and night.. not tested in bad weather yet,but so far could not be better

    1. Your remark about reception using an "old Pace box" is interesting. I live in the UK so reception is never a problem, but I did an experiment this morning which may be useful for people trying to receive a weak signal. I deliberately panned my dish until the signal pixellated and froze, as seen on my usual Thomson 4212 receiver. Then, without moving the dish, I substituted my ancient Pace 2500 receiver. Result: perfect reception again, even though the dish alignment was wrong. This leads me to the conclusion that the sensitivity and/or signal processing seems to be much better in ancient Pace receivers.


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