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SES confirms UK and Ireland satellite move for February 2014

Satellite operator SES has confirmed it will be transferring UK TV and radio services from its Astra 1N satellite to Astra 2E beginning in  February 2014.

The move will affect some of the main channels available via Sky and Freesat, including services from the BBC and ITV.

On Facebook, the satellite operator moved to re-assure UK and Irish viewers, stating:
"The transfer will have no adverse implications for viewers in the UK and Ireland as the affected channels will continue to operate on the same frequencies and will be broadcast at the same, or slightly improved power levels, across the UK and Ireland.

"TV viewers outside the UK and Ireland may see an impact and may not be able to receive channels from ASTRA 2E UK Spot Beam, which has a smaller footprint than ASTRA 1N. The new footprint on SES' replacement fleet has been designed to meet the requirements of UK and Irish broadcasters who target their channels for distribution in the UK and/or Ireland. UK and Irish broadcasters hold broadcasting rights only for the UK and/or Ireland but not for other countries."

Astra 2E was successfully launched into space in September following a two month delay at the Baikonur launch site. It is currently orbiting at a test position and will shortly move to the 28.2 degrees East orbital position, where it will be positioned alongside other satellites serving the UK and Ireland.

Last year, the transfer of services to Astra 2F knocked out reception of some UK free-to-air TV and radio services outside of the British Isles, thanks to the introduction of a much tighter spot-beam focused on the British Isles. Today's announcement by SES indicates that the same will occur from February, when remaining BBC, ITV and Channel 4 services make the switch from Astra 1N's much broader spot-beam.

The Winter Olympics takes place between 7th and 23rd February 2014, covered by the BBC on BBC Two, BBC Two HD and BBC Red Button. It is unclear at this stage if the transponders carrying BBC Two or BBC Red Button would transfer during this time. The Winter Olympics is a listed event under section 97 of the Broadcasting Act 1996. Although there's nothing in the law that would prohibit changes in transmission, other major sports events covered under that legislation are often accompanied by technical lock-downs, when no major changes to transmission infrastructure are made.

The switch is usually very brief, with just a short break in service as channels move from one satellite to another.


  1. This report is not quite accurate..
    There are NO Irish channels that are Free to air on the Astra platform.

    1. Puzzled. The article does not specifically mention Irish free-to-air channels. SES's Facebook comment mentions Irish broadcasters, which WILL be affected by the move, and the satellite move will affect RTÉ's free-to-air radio stations who are currently on Astra 1N.
      Depending on your definition of "Irish", some may count UTV.

  2. But even after this change, RTE radio will still be available in England... So, no real arguement for Irish copyright etc...

    1. RTĖ's radio stations are on the Freesat EPG: UK coverage is not the issue for the radio stations. However, reception in Europe may be hindered if the transponder involved switches to the new spot beam. Equally FTA channels on the Irish Sky EPG including BBC Northern Ireland may be affected. As SES stated in the quote above nothing changes adversely within the British Isles.

  3. Relatives in Menorca waiting with baited breath .........


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