What are the legal alternatives to get UK TV in Europe and beyond?

With satellite no longer being an option for some viewers in Europe to watch UK TV channels, many have considered obtaining their UK TV fix from the internet or via encrypted satellite feeds.

But with numerous illegal services that charge viewers to access UK TV channels without the broadcaster's prior consent, what are the legal alternatives to get your fix of British soaps, dramas and more when abroad?

BBC
BBC video-on-demand
The BBC previously offered a global version of its iPlayer to some viewers via iOS. It closed earlier this year. BBC Worldwide, the commercial arm of the BBC says it's "now developing plans to launch new digital services across multiple devices."

BBC International channels
For more information on the BBC's commercially operated international channels, click here

BBC Radio
BBC Radio is available online from the BBC around the world. During sports events, such as the Olympics, international streaming of certain channels may be restricted.


ITV
ITV Essentials

What?
A new service, that launched in November 2013, that allows viewers in some parts of western Europe to watch ITV shows. It initially started with Coronation Street and Emmerdale, but now features shows including Loose Women, Surprise, Surprise, TOWIE and classic ITV drama. Programmes appear within a short time from premiering on ITV in the UK and what's on offer will vary depending on which shows ITV currently has on its schedule.

Where?
Austria, Belgium, France, Greece, Gibraltar, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Portugal, Slovenia, Slovakia and Spain

How?
Via PC/Mac or iPad/iPhone, via App Store. See https://itvessentials.com/help

Cost?
€4.99 for a 30 day pass, or per month on a recurring contract. Pricing information correct as of July 2015.

Development?
The service has already developed from just offering Coronation Street and Emmerdale. Its future development is unknown.


ITV Choice
What?
ITV's international channel, available in parts of Asia and in Malta. It shows programmes including Emmerdale, Coronation Street, Dancing on Ice, The Jonathan Ross Show The Chase and Vera.

Where?
Asia, Africa Middle East, Malta. See http://itv-choice.com

How?
Via local cable/satellite providers. See http://itv-choice.com and click on the "find us" link.

Cost?
Depends on how you receive the channel. See link above for cable/satellite providers to enquire.

Development?
It's not known if the channel might expand in other areas.


Cirkus
What?
A video-on-demand service with access to a library of British TV content, including the 2015 series of Poldark and Peaky Blinders.

Where?
Norway, Sweden, Finland, Iceland. See www.cirkustv.com 

How?
Via the following providers: Com Hem, Boxer, Get, TeliaSonera, Vodafone Iceland.

Cost?
Contact one of the providers listed above for local pricing.


Slingbox
UK viewers who travel can use a Slingbox to relay their local TV service to wherever they are. The Slingbox HD Pro has an inbuilt DVB-T (Freeview) tuner to receive your local TV and relay it via the internet.

Using such a solution, you are accessing UK TV as received at your UK home for your own personal use.



Into the legal quagmire:
VPN  / Smart DNS
Described as a legal "grey area" by some experts, a VPN (Virtual Private Network) gives you internet access (including catch up TV access) as if you are in the UK, or any other country of your choosing.

Big businesses use VPNs - staff in some international businesses based in the UK sometimes find they can't see content on websites such as BBC Sport, because the corporate computer system re-routes its web traffic outside of the UK.

There's also smart DNS, which provides the same end result: internet access as if you are in the UK.

However, as mentioned: it's a legal grey area, and there are reports that copyright owners have clamped down on internet access via known VPN and Smart DNS providers. Netflix has been facing pressure to stop Australians accessing its U.S service via VPN, for example.

You use such services at your own risk; accessing certain services outside of the UK is generally a breach of the terms and conditions of the relevant broadcaster or platform provider. a516digital cannot therefore endorse this type of access to UK TV.



Internet TV services
None of the main UK broadcasters have given permission for internet TV services to stream their UK channels abroad.

In such cases, IPTV providers that do this in effect steal the content and often charge users for the privilege or add advertising, without any regards to the rights holders. A recent European Court ruling indicated that such providers would have to seek permission from the channel operators to carry their channels. Some IPTV providers claim to exploit legal loopholes, but international broadcasters and rights holders are reviewing their legal options and are even pursuing some IPTV providers in the courts.

a516digital is therefore unable to endorse any internet based provider of UK TV abroad.

A note of caution: In Switzerland, it's legal to retransmit services that can be received via satellite overspill, as long as rights holders are compensated. Some IPTV operators based in Switzerland have taken advantage of this rule to relay services back out of Switzerland, but this is an area of legal contention, especially when the broadcasts are transmitted back in to the EU, where broadcasters must provide permission for such retransmissions as per a recent court ruling. Rogue operators which retransmit Swiss cable TV via the internet, often with websites that highlight the legality of receiving British TV in Switzerland, fail to mention that such retransmission of services falls foul of the terms and conditions of the cable operators. While copyright/royalty fees are being paid by the cable operator on the basis of domestic users accessing the service, unauthorised retransmissions are not covered. Services are thus accessed at a user's own risk and may be closed down without notice.

Content last reviewed: July 2015


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