Internet TV specialist Michael Coard explains why and when you will be losing your British TV this year

WHEN Channel 5 disappeared in a puff of smoke before Christmas taking with it all those chestnuts such as CSI and Celebrity Big Brother, there was – perhaps understandably – little more than a minor ripple of concern

That was until the million or so British expats in Spain learnt that ITV and BBC might be next.

The horror of losing Coronation Street and Eastenders, not to mention X Factor and Strictly Come Dancing, was too much to bear for some people, with one even commenting in a recent article that his wife would ‘force him to move back to Blighty if she lost her British TV’.

Action stations then for many, rushing out to find the best value solution to the upcoming problem… but do they really need to worry?

Well the short answer is ‘yes’, but it is not imminent and nobody knows exactly which parts of Spain will be affected.

What is pretty certain though is Andalucia is in for the chop. And even if you live in Gibraltar you will almost certainly lose your Freesat channels this summer.

It all stems back to the launch of the SES Astra Satellite fleet some 13 years ago since when expats on the Costa del Sol could enjoy their favourite television programs via this satellite with little interruption.

However the recent and planned improvements to the Astra Satellite fleet will change all this.

Let me explain.

Our television is provided by several individual satellites positioned in geo-stationary orbit at an approximate height of 22.000 miles above the earth at 28.2deg east of south.

The individual satellites are placed several miles apart from each other and they all help to create a strong and reliable TV signal for their clients; the TV networks, such as Canal Plus, Rai Uno and ITV.

The problem is that the life of a satellite is around 12 years and as most of the present fleet were launched around 13 years ago they need to be replaced.

This was demonstrated by the rapid decline in performance of the satellite Astra 2D.

Although launched in late 2000, its performance declined so quickly that a quick fix was required and all channels were transferred to Astra 1N, a satellite intended for the use of German and Spanish channels at a slot of 19 degrees, but moved to 28.2 to assist the failing 2D.

All of the popular British channels were moved from 2D to 1N early last year and reception throughout Spain improved especially in Gibraltar and the Balearic Islands, with Andalucia also faring well.

However this is certainly all about to change this summer when 1N will be moved back to its original slot of 19deg as originally planned and all British channels will be moved to the new ‘big birds’ called Astra 2E and 2F.

Astra 2F was put into service in December 2012 and Astra 2E has a predicted launch date at the end of May.
These two satellites are of similar build and specification and have two main broadcast beams.

These are a ‘UK spot beam’ concentrated entirely on a UK domestic client base and a pan European beam.

And that is the problem as the UK spot beam will not be received on the Costa Del Sol even with a whopping three metre dish and therefore all channels will be lost.

How do we know this?

Well it has, in fact, already been proved when Channel Five moved to the UK spot beam in December and disappeared from our screens (apart from Five HD (High Definition) which is a part of the Sky package).

The date for the major ‘switch off’, as it has come to be known, is being estimated to be at some point this summer when all the UK public service channels will move to the spot beam.

It is likely to happen around two months after the satellite has been launched, positioned in the correct place and tested properly, so at a guess I would say late July.

This is already backed up by missives from the BBC (see end) where they explain about the changes being due to the need to improve services for all UK based viewers, particularly in places like northern Scotland.

Ultimately it seems certain that there will be a loss of channels in Andalucia, as well as Portugal and the Canary Islands.

Sky channels are less likely to be affected as it is probable that they will be broadcast via the pan European beam that can be received in Southern Spain without problem.

They’ve got plenty of clients down here, after all. But nothing is certain.

Luckily there are alternatives to continue getting UK TV using your internet connection.

Some free services, such as Filmon, already exist but you view on your PC or connect a cable to your main TV, however the image quality isn’t so good, and you have to pay if you want it in HD.

Another, better alternative is to subscribe to a professional streaming service and connect an IPTV set top box to your main television.

You will need a stable internet connection of at least 2M and will be able to enjoy many advanced features such as ‘never miss a program’ catch up TV, programme-recording, up-to-date movies in English and live Premier League football.

And to boot, you will be able to use the IPTV set top box to access YouTube, Google and everything else…

My advice, don’t hang around… get prepared for the ‘big switch off’ whoever you choose.

For more information visit


  1. After much piddling about and gnashing of teeth I ended up buying Apple TV. I subscribe to Overplay DNS (after trying many), get BBC TV through my iPad and mirror it to my telly via Apple TV. The picture is more than acceptable. I also subscribe to their VPN service as a backup in case the DNS doesn’t work (as sometimes happens). VPN also means I can listen to UK radio and TMS especially in my car.

    I also have Sky+ so use their catchup service to download programmes I want to watch in HD and watch them at a later date. Many DNS services don’t work with Sky + but Overplay works with everything. I’ve found Apple TV much easier to manage and more attractive than Raspberry Pi and XBMC which is clunky and often crashes.

    Hope this helps.

  2. I use a Mag 250 in Portugal and UK TV channels are streamed from Amsterdam by a reliable company which charges 12.50 Euros per month. BBC 1 & 2 and ITV 1 are in HD and the remainder are in SD. My download speed is 5.15 Mbps and reception is great. Best of all, you get an EPG and remote control, similar to a Freesat setup, not to mention 7 day catch up. Our iPad is free for other tasks.

    You can find a similar service in Spain. Don’t mess around with anything else; life’s too short.

  3. To Bill Bullock.

    I am on the Algarve like you. You say don’t mess around with anything else…..I HAVE to mess around with loads of boxes as I have to have subtitles and the Mag-250 doesn’t carry them. They have been saying for 9 months that “subtitles are coming soon”…but they never seem to arrive.

    IPTVforYou have a box and a branch office in the Algarve. But the box, a Telergy, costs 200eu and then the subscriptions are on top.

    The box I was hoping for, the Ex-Pat tv box (99eu) said they hoped to have subtitles by April this year. They still haven’t got them.

    This is proving a nightmare for me and unless I can find a cheaper box with subs for BBC1,& 2 ITV1, C4, C5, then I shall have to bite the bullet and buy the 200eu box.

  4. Does anyone know of an IPTV box that carrid subtitles on the popular BBC and ITV channels, apart from the Telergy box (which costs 200eu)??

    Anyhelp would by greatly appreciated as I HAVE to use subtitles on tv….

    Heartfelt thanks for any help

  5. @Mike.

    Thank you but I did not ask if iPlayer supported subtitles.I was referring to straight, ordinary Tv.

    I am not interested at all in iPlayer, just live tv programmes.

    I am looking for an IPTV box (not the 200eu Telergy) but a cheaper one which I can connect to the tv via the router.

    Hopefully, someone will know of a unit???

  6. The only disappointment with my box is that it doesn’t include ITV Encore (also known as Now TV}

    Other than that omission I am well satisfied. It was the only box I could find that included subtitles on all the popular UK channels- an absolute must for me.

  7. Any chance the editors can remove this article and associated comments, it’s getting silly by the time people finish commenting or trying to sell boxes they will have put another satellite up and we will be getting UK TV the old way.

  8. it is available in southern Spain John K, but it is slightly illegal, and of course you are picking up an encrypted signal, and the encryption codes change from time to time. As I understand it, your satellite dish is aimed at the “new Satellite’s” backup satellite, still carrying all the old channels on the pan european beam. Quality not as good, but I am assured it is perfectly watchable.

  9. @John K, surprised you didn’t know about the satellite solution I mentioned, as it’s common knowledge. My codes have changed twice, a guy does them for 10 euros but you can also do them yourself too. IPTV sucks btw, the networks in Spain are dreadful.

  10. the “specific satellite solution” I suspect is a system as i have described it. A dish is aimed at the backup Intel satellite (still on pan European beam) and picks up those signals transmitted to a receiver. The encrypted signal is decoded and hey presto a perfectly watchable channel until all goes pear shaped when encryption codes change. I am told the supplier normally recodes your receiver within a day or three. A charge per channel is normally made as a one off cost which includes encryption changes. This is a I understand it. I do not know any suppliers of this system but they are out there. It is NOT a rebroadcast system using line of sight transmitter masts. Hope this is of some help.

  11. @Derek, I already mentioned it numerous times, you just can’t read properly. Every expat newspaper advertises UK TV satellite solutions, you are so out of touch with anything to do with Spain it’s amazing you actually live here (assuming you do lol).

  12. @Paul

    Paul is right the Biss Codes are normally sorted in 2 or 3 Days by the Receiver Suppliers I have a number of clients I just send them a RAR file which they Unzip plug their stick in the Back of the Receiver then off they go again you only need a small dish for 27.5 west but the program content is small BBC1 England Ireland Scotland & Wales BBC 1 HD BBC 2 3 and 4 although 3 Going BBC News BBC Red Button Parliament cbbc CBeebies ITV1 Channel 4 ITV. Most of the other channels CBS True movies etc you should on the old dish hope this helps. You coulkd go for a PROPER IPTV NOT XMBC it is not reliable.

    Pete Molloy

  13. @Adrian

    The Mag250 I use is great as long as you have 3 or more Meg as it uses about 1.5 Meg to run the Mag250 I have also has OTE Arena and Astro Sports although they come in a foreign language if you are a sports fan it does not matter you get more choice on sat afternoon. Plus you get all the normal UK channels plus S– B- Set–ta etc and loads of Movies.


  14. The IPTV Telergy 601 that I bought (mainly foIr the subtitles) needs 2 meg download according to the blurb.

    I have doe several speed tests in the evening and I consistently get 5.8meg. I live on the Algarve, so maybe the speeds are better here?

  15. @Adrian

    I get it from a company in San Pedro Del Pinatar it is 299€ for first year including IPTV Receiver then 180€ a year I had tried loads of different way’s of getting telly and suppliers this is the most stable and reliable.


  16. @adrian

    Sorry mate the newspaper will take out telephone or names of companies so I do not how I can help you. I do understand why they do this but it does help people trying to find an easy solution to tv without having to have a 3 metre plus dish.


  17. @Fred

    Hi Fred

    I am talking about the Costa Del Sol area’s I have been installing Dishes for nearly 13 years, once you get past La-Manga in Murcia you start to need 1.5 Prime Focus 1.4 Offsets do not work they break up regular then when you get down to Almeria/Sax you are 1.8/1.9 then even 10kms further on you hit the 2.3 mark and so on. That is why I mentioned 3 metre Dishes.

    I just didn’t say where mate. Where are you on a 1.2 they don’t work up here on Costa Blanca in the Torrevieja area but can just make if you move up the coast north to Santa Pola they are ok.


  18. @ Fred

    They can’t be getting a signal from the Satellite we would normally use in the Uk and up the top half of of Spain from Murcia up towards the north of of Spain, Astra 2 28.2 East Fred.

    They could certainly not receive ITV BBC Channel 4 etc they may be getting a signal from Eutelsat 27.5 west with biss codes to decode it.

    This whole site discussion is about losing TV in the costa del sol/almeria they would not of had any comments from anyone if everybody could get a signal on a 1.2 dish.

    You say re-aligned do you mean it was re aligned to to 27.5 west which has it happens is a right angle to where Astra 2 is, almost a full 90 degrees movement on the dish.

    It is confusing to people on this site if they are thinking your friends can get a signal FOR BBC etc on Astra 2 on a 1.2 when they can’t do you follow what I am saying you need to clarify for people it is misleading not intentional I am sure.


  19. @Fred

    Hi mate please tell me what Satellite you pointing at are you on 27.5 WEST Eutelsat only getting BBC ITV Channel 4.

    Do you get film 4 more 4 Channel 4 on your 1.2 Dish if you do not you are not getting Astra 2 28.2 which is what everybody wants.

    I rang a Sat installer down your way to today re getting BBC Channel 4 Itv Cbeebies ect only 19 Channels only 12 areal the other 7 are duplicates. He wants to charge 350€ for this system using existing dish RE_ALIGNED.

    So my question is where do you get your signal from.

    I know it does you but you have not answered the question which as I said previous it does help the community if you do not say what and you get it Fred.


  20. Just reading about about people trying to get 3m dishes. If you live in the South, you won’t get the BBC back even with a 3m dish!!
    If you get Intelsat 907 @ 27.5º west with a small dish, you can get the channels that everyone is mentioning

  21. I should have explained further.

    The Telergy subtitles are rock solid and really good when they are attached to a recorded show or film, but when they are displayed during a live broadcast, especially when people are talking, they jump about all over the place at the bottom of the screen.

    This refers to BBC1 and 2. The subs on ITV show are rock solid whether the show is live or recorded.



  22. More dodgy weirdness. Can nothing be done about this hacking/hi-jacking? In more than three years of scanning the the OP website, this stuff has only recently appeared. It seems to have followed the new format of the “comments” section and is targeted at much older threads from the archives.

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