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UK television blackout fears for expats following satellite changes

SATELLITE UPDATE Expats are fearing the loss of UK TV reception following what appeared to be an early move to the new Astra 2F satellite for the new BBC One HD test channels.

These test channels, which will become national variants for BBC One HD in Scotland and Wales began life on Astra 1N, (frequency: 11023 H).

After a short interruption on 11023 H yesterday, the test channels could no longer be received across much of Europe, indicating that the services had moved to the new UK spot beam on the Astra 2F satellite, which arrived at the 28.2 E orbital position earlier this week. However, both the BBC and Astra satellite operator SES have not commented on the matter, leaving recent events subject to speculation.

Based on what appears to be test transmissions for Astra 2F, discussion has been rife on numerous internet forums during the past 24 hours with regards the future availability of UK channels abroad.

Unofficial reception reports submitted to internet sites suggest that reception of the main UK Freesat channels will no longer be possible across most of Scandinavia, Eastern Europe and Italy, without specialist satellite equipment and non-domestic large dish sizes. Germany appears to be dissected, with viewers west of an arc stretching from Bremen, Hanover, Kassel, W├╝rzberg, Stuttgart and Freiburg able to receive services with a dish size of 1 metre or less. Spanish reception reports indicate that with a large enough dish reception is still possible in eastern and north-eastern Spain, with the south of Spain and Portugal and the Canaries now out of range - even with larger dish sizes and even before potentially interfering services go live on the satellite's West Africa spotbeam. For the past year, expats have benefited from better than expected reception due to the temporary use of the Astra 1N satellite, which was brought in to bridge the gap until Astra 2F was ready. Reports from UK and Republic of Ireland viewers, apart from those in the Shetland Islands, indicate better than expected reception of the BBC One HD test channels than previously. A fuller picture is expected to emerge in the coming days once all testing and migration is complete.

Last month, the BBC withdrew its radio stations from a pan-European beam, meaning that listeners in many parts of Europe could no longer tune into stations such as BBC Radio 2 via satellite. 

The high cost of broadcast rights, especially sport, means it is prohibitively expensive to have to purchase rights for programmes across multiple countries where the signal overspills. The BBC offers a subscription package of commercially run channels via major digital TV platform providers for Scandinavia and Poland, plus a two channel offering of BBC Entertainment and BBC World News for other European viewers.

  Related article:
Satellite Changes: What it means for UK TV viewers in Europe (, 15/12/2012)


  1. Some services from ITV, Channel 4 and all SD services from Channel 5 migrated to Astra 2F today, 4th December 2012.


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