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UK TV via satellite: UK Spotbeam

Most of the major UK TV channels broadcast free-to-air from either the Astra 2E or 2F satellite, orbiting the earth at 28.2 degrees East (2F) or 28.5 degrees East (2E).

To enable free-to-air transmission without having the extra cost of paying for the rights to broadcast across Europe, the broadcasters use a spotbeam facility created by the satellite operator (SES) to target the transmissions towards the British Isles.

UK Spotbeam footprint
This means reception becomes difficult further away from the British Isles.

This map shows where reception of the main BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5 services is possible using a Sky (or Freesat) minidish. The 45cm line showing the area in which a "Zone 1" minidish will work, the 60cm line showing the edge of the area where a "Zone 2" minidish will work.

The second, more recent map of the UK spotbeam shows in more detail where reception drops off (click the picture to enlarge). Just outside of the highlighted area, reception drops off rapidly and is very difficult. Beyond the highlighted area, your signal will vary at different times of the day and isn't guaranteed to continue to be available in the future.

This map shows Astra 2E coverage. Astra 2F varies very slightly to the south and east.

It is possible to receive broadcasts from the UK spotbeam outside of the area shown using a larger dish. (see below)

In contrast, some channels (mostly pay TV channels) are beamed using the European beam. The channels either carry low-value programming (where the broadcast rights for the whole of Europe isn't too expensive) or are encrypted.

This map shows the extent of the European beam, which includes distinctive hotspots over Poland and the Canary Islands.

Information last reviewed: 04/08/2015

UK TV via satellite in Europe
Receiving BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and 5 outside of the main UK spotbeam zone with a larger dish: Dish sizes in Europe   


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