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UK TV in Europe: via cable and terrestrial networks

You can watch some of the main UK television channels outside of the UK via local cable and/or terrestrial networks.

By "main UK television channels", we refer to the main five channels: BBC One, BBC Two, ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5.

There are three areas where this is possible legally:

In Belgium and the Netherlands, cable operators have historically provided access to BBC One and BBC Two via their networks. Originally relayed from the Dover transmitter, cable providers now take the satellite signal.

Cable operators have specific financial agreements with the BBC to allow them to retransmit services on their networks.

Many operators also offer other BBC channels, including BBC Four and the BBC's international services including BBC First. Contact your local cable operator for availability and subscription charges.

In the Netherlands, BBC One and BBC Two are also distributed via the country's terrestrial TV service Digitenne, as part of its pay TV package. Digitenne is operated by kpn, which also operates an IPTV service which carries BBC content.

In the Republic of Ireland, BBC TV services are available via UPC Cable and Sky Ireland, in addition to terrestrial overspill signals from Northern Ireland and the west of Wales, historically used extensively in border / coastal areas, although now increasingly easier to obtain via free-to-air satellite.

The three countries mentioned so far fall fully within the satellite footprint of the broadcasts aimed at the UK, where the signal can be received in most areas with dishes less than 60cm in diameter, and so the BBC has to ensure it has relevant rights covering all of the territories its signal can be received in anyway.

In Switzerland, local copyright law means Swiss cable operators can pull free-to-air satellite signals which overspill into the country and make them available on cable, even if the broadcaster does not want their services to be distributed in Switzerland. Larger dishes in the north-west of the country are able to pull the signal from satellite very easily, although the country is right on the edge of the broadcast overspill area. Broadcasters / rights holders are compensated in this unique arrangement. This means that cable/IP operators, including UPC Cablecom widely distribute the main UK TV channels. Contact your local provider for more information.

A note of caution: Some IPTV operators based in the country 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.


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