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 www.smartsat-tv.com

1200 COMMENTS

  1. Hi CPH1962

    I have addressed a few of the issues for your situation in the post to Christine Bennett: 4th December.

    Now that you’ve read a few replies to your question in recent posts you may be better able to interpret the suggestions.

    I am inclined to agree with Paul’s comment:

    My question would be, whilst UKTV is pretty much required by the majority of ex pats here, is it a necessary requirement for UK holiday makers, after all, they would not expect it anywhere in the world would they?

    If they need basic services such a Sky News and maybe a few children’s channels – that should be available after the switchover on an old Sky satellite or equivalent set top box with a fairly small 1m diameter dish.

    You could, of course, pay for Sky subscription channels. But do not have any satellite equipment installed until after the switchover. The clear advantage of using a Sky box is that there is a chance that your guests would be familiar with the operation.

    With a modern Sky + On Demand box it is possible to watch UK catchup TV – but for that, of course, you need broadband.

    However, if you really want to provide paying guests with full UK TV there is really no alternative to paying for broadband – and that would normally mean a fixed telephone line and the monthly rental. You may find that telefonica/movistar will allow you to cancel the payments for periods of non-use, but don’t build your hopes up too much. Others on this blog will be able to advise better than me. I think they may agree to occasional cancellations of about three months only during which you retain the line while it is temporarily disconnected. That may apply just to the telephone line rental and not the broadband service.

    That leaves the problem of a contract for internet TV. Your guests would require a pre-configured set-top box, password protected, with no possibility that they would be tempted to play and change the settings. Something similar to the MAG-250 as described by MrSkyTV. The box is set up ready to stream UK TV from a subscription “IPTV” provider. Rental is 15€ per month.

  2. To CPH1962

    As a follow up to my last post, it may be possible that some “IPTV” subscription providers will allow you to pay for the source of UK TV streams (called the portal) on a monthly basis. I read something about that recently. That, I guess, would mean that, while you would have to pay regularly for the telephone line and broadband, it may be possible to pick and choose the months that you pay the 15€ for the portal.

    Have just read the previous two posts (Linda and Paul P) and agree with all their points.

    To Paul P:

    concerning BB4S, sadly they do not provide PAYG but you can cancel for up to six months and then resume. As I recall, you do not pay for the broadband antenna/router/installation.

    I have a friend who uses their system with a dedicated, small desktop PC as his HTPC (home theatre PC) connected to a very large TV screen. A big plus with BB4S is that the 30€ per month pays for the broadband and two UK IP addresses. So, you can have XBMC running on the PC for all your TV viewing, sourcing e.g. iPlayer and itvPlayer for live and catchup and FilmOn for live TV, or you can watch through the websites – and access BBC/ITV/FilmOn direct.

    What we don’t know, but this applies to all broadband, is to what extent the speed could drop through contention issues given the sudden increase in demand for high speed streaming after the switch over. I believe the owner of BB4S capped his client base during the summer to reduce the impact on broadband speed.

  3. Also Astra2tv (www.astra2tv.com) allow you to pay monthly inasmuch as there is no contract per se so you simply stop paying and start again when you come back. Their rate are €18 per month plus about €185 for the box. I have seen this System demonstrated and I have to say it is very good and very easy (like changing channels on a normal tv). Probably my system of choice.

  4. they have also confirmed that they will allow someone that already has a MAG-250 to move over to the service that they supply and provide the new software (flashing image) they charge a “one off” connection fee of €45

    I like it. Mike – an early Christmas present for you!

  5. Nice point about switching my Mag-250 over Jamie, but I’m not paying 15 euros a month to anyone for re-broadcasting. If the Mag-260 supports flash, and the manufacturers themselves say it will (they know that everyone here wants to get UK TV) – if it does, then I can’t see how there will be a need for re-broadcasters. You would just need a Mag-260 and a programmed VPN router and you’re away. All the free players for free! Fingers crossed. Hope the scaremongering re-broadcasters lose their money.

    Question: is an “open” IPTV set-top box one which also hides your IP? I wonder if the Mag-260 might also be able to do this.

    As for me, I’m cancelling my Sky subscription and taking out another one at a family member’s address in the UK (50-75% off for a year). My internet speed is now 60MB on wifi and more on cable so no problem there for catchup. I’m going to get a router off Ebay with DD-WRT already on it (needed to allow it to hire your VPN, apparently). For live TV from channels I can’t get after the switchover (the World Cup when it starts) I’ll wait for the Mag-260.

    I’ve been checking VPN providers and Cactus VPN are only 4 euros a month. They’ve sent me a tutorial on how to programme the DD-WRT enabled router. If that seems easy enough, then I think that’s me done. I’ll report back.

    No-one’s mentioned about some of the new BBC HD channels not being available. I can get BBC3 HD and CBBC HD on the same channel numbers as before. Can’t get BBC4HD or BBC News HD or CBeebies HD at all, but I can get the old SD channels in their new place.

    This seems odd to me. 3 of the 5 ‘new’ HD channels must have gone on 2F, but the older versions (plus two of the new HD channels) have stayed on 2N (or whatever the old one was) or have gone to the pan-European beam on the 2F satellite (unlikely). Surely if a big switch over was going to come in the new few weeks, they would wait and switch them all over? Could this be a sign that we might lose some BBC channels but not necessarily all of them? If we’re going to lose all of them, it would mean BBC4 SD for example, changing now then changing again within a month. Possible I suppose. Maybe it’s part of testing it out.

    Oh conjecture conjecture. Switch it off straight after Christmas and put us all out of our misery….!

  6. Mag-250 Set-top Box

    This box has generated some interest on this blog. This post is really aimed at Mike et al who can source a box at a low price or already have one and are wondering what to do with it. Maybe sell it on ebay ;)

    See this forum:

    “http://linuxsat-support.com/showthread.php?t=32974&page=4”

    It is a typical forum – lots of repetition. The focus, it seems, is streaming football onto the box in the UK. The links takes you to page 4 of about 11 pages. It is a bit on the technical side. I have read only a few pages. The implication is that you can independently source a paid for portal. Think of it as background reading – I don’t think you’ll get instant solutions.

    As of today the 2E has still not moved.

  7. To Mike

    Have just seen your post. The Olive Press seems to be behind today.

    You said:

    I’ve been checking VPN providers and Cactus VPN are only 4 euros a month. They’ve sent me a tutorial on how to programme the DD-WRT enabled router. If that seems easy enough, then I think that’s me done. I’ll report back.

    Good! I knew you’d get there eventually.

    Where are you getting the router? Those details I sent about the Linksys E1200 included a source in the US pre-configured with dd-wrt. The price including postage from the US via Ebay: £45.

    I’m not suggesting you buy from US (although you could) but the price gives you a benchmark.

    A suggestion: ask your prospective VPN provider will their VPN currently work with TVCatchup – I imagine you know about TVCatchup. They are very keen to blacklist UK IPs once they can link the IP to a VPN provider. Once you have a system that works it is best not to advertise which VPN you used – because of the problem of blacklisting.

    Another suggestion: you may wish to check, with the Ebay seller, which version of dd-wrt firmware they have installed – and check that that firmware does support OpenVPN or whichever VPN you plan to use. The VPN provider should be able to advise on that.

    Good luck!

  8. The following has just appeared on the Astra 2E forum. I can’t vouch for its authenticity but it sounds pukka.

    Astra 2E is delayed until February 2014.

    “As part of SES’ ongoing fleet renewal programme, we will be transferring all the UK Spot Beam transponders currently operating on ASTRA 1N across to ASTRA 2E. This move at the 28.2/28.5ºEast orbital location will take place over several weeks beginning early February 2014. 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.”

  9. And the Bird has still not Flown

    It seems that this is the first time that there’s been an official date announcement about the start of broadcast operations of a satellite, even before any official statement from Astrium that the successful testing of the satellite has been completed and that the transit of the satellite to its operational position has begun. The 2E is still in its testing orbit.

    Interesting, also, that the SES statement focused solely on the UK beam, supporting the view that the announcement is, in part, a response to all the interest and requests for clarification from the UK TV watching public. It could be that the UK TV broadcasters themselves have voiced concern and prompted the announcement. The statement may have been prompted by increasing rumours that there was a problem with the 2E. We shall, of course, probably never know the reasons – but this announcement does appear to have created a precedent.

    It certainly appears that SES did feel under some “obligation”.

    Interesting to note that the SES announcement emphasises the reduced footprint and that “UK and Irish broadcasters hold broadcasting rights only for the UK and/or Ireland but not for other countries” whereas the BBC blog (Alix Pryde) focused on the benefit of the increased signal strength in the UK.

  10. Has anyone tried using Zattoo?

    They seem to be a big player in TV streaming and get a reasonable review on eyeondemand.com . BBC and ITV are in the list of TV cahannels. The trouble is their service is not available in Portugal yet so I can’t trial it. I cannot contact the company in Switzerland to ask them when they will be streaming to the Iberian peninsular and tempting thousands of British expats: emails are not getting through. I suppose I could bight the bullet and telephone them but they might keep me on hold for ages, only to say eventually that they do not service my area yet.

  11. Thanks MrSkyTV.

    It’s definitely not available in Portugal yet. I suppose everyone thinks we are a bit primitive here. Jo Chambers has an article on Zattoo in “http://www.eyeondemand.com/” if you are interested.

    Bill.

  12. Alright, so FilmOn may vanish – but then again so could any re-broadcast service. It happened before with Telmicro on the Costa Blanca – and if Smartsat is the same Adam Smart from Smartsat in Barcelona, then he also did a runner from there leaving many high and dry (my apologies to SmartSat if this is not the case, but maybe people should check first).

    Any reception of UK TV here is exploiting loopholes. Be they technical, geographical or political – you run the risk of being cut off. How you go about it makes this risk more or less substantial. I think re-broadcasting has to be the greyest area there is…and it was recently officially proclaimed illegal in EU courts.

    Mag260, VPN & programmed router and you’re away by Feb all being well. Unless you pay Sky I think your best bet is definitely to wait.

  13. I’m with you there mike.

    All the get rich quick merchants will undoubtedly start spouting eloquent now about the big shut down in February, so buy your box now at €169 because it will be €250 after February. I feel sorry for all the people who bought their boxes last May when the mantra was exactly the same – Only the months had changed.

    So do nothing until something happens. When it happens. H If it happens.

  14. Mike said:

    Alright, so FilmOn may vanish – but then again so could any re-broadcast service

    To Mike:

    Your comment helps put the switchover back in perspective. This blog is about alternatives to satellite TV in those areas that will be affected. FilmOn is one alternative and whilst FilmOn is still able to stream UK TV, it is a very good alternative. Long may it continue.

    During the last week you would think that the “Big Switch off” in Spain is about the “switch off” of FilmOn and not the “switch off” of UK Sat TV.

    The question remains “What are the alternatives to Freesat for live reception?” That should be the focus. Let’s forget catchup for the moment.

    Let’s be realistic. Many of those affected will be happy to receive a subset of the Freesat channels. I’d be interested to hear what others think. My Choice would be:

    BBC 1, 2, 3, 4 and BBC News.
    ITV 1.
    I can live without the +1 channels.
    Channel 4 – just for the news.

    We could spend the next four weeks arguing the fine detail.

    So, what are the internet alternatives that are “freely” available?

    iPlayer for the BBC live broadcasts.

    itvPlayer for itv 1, 2, 3 and 4

    Channel 4 Watch Live for 4, 4seven, E4, more4, film4

    If you prefer to have the above channels collected together for free by one provider, there is TVCatchup. TVCatchup does not include ITV2, 3 or 4.

    Oh! and don’t forget FilmOn. Don’t write it off just yet. Of course, for the higher definition version of FilmOn, there is a monthly fee.

    All these alternatives have been mentioned many times on this blog. It may help to have them listed in one post.

  15. I’m with you Jamie. We obviously have similar tastes. I think the best programmmes are on BBC 1 & 2. Downton Abbey is about the only programme we watch on ITV1. Channel 4 news is good but I like to watch Euronews now that I have moved away from the UK; you get more of what is going in in Europe obviously.

    I haven’t managed to fool TVCatchup yet that I am not outside the UK. SmartyDNS (my extended free trial is now over) and tunlr DNS values do not do the trick. I suppose I will have to try a VPN soon. Overplay has been recommended somewhere else. Has anyone tried it?

  16. 1. Why is BBC1 available in Australia?

    It isn’t. People there get BBC World News (as they do elsewhere in the world) as well as UKTV, which shows entertainment programming from the BBC and ITV – it’s similar to BBC Entertainment, the successor to BBC Prime.

    2. Why is ITV available in Thailand?

    It’s ITV Choice, a different channel from ITV in the UK, showing different programmes for rights reasons, just as BBC Entertainment shows different programmes from BBC One.

    The Irish, Belgians and Dutch do get the UK domestic TV channels, but that’s because the terrestrial signal has spilled over from the UK. The Swiss get them as well, the BBC did take legal action in the Swiss courts, but they lost. However, they also pay BBC Worldwide to carry BBC World News and BBC Entertainment.

    Spanish satellite, cable and IPTV services carry BBC World News, but none carry BBC Entertainment – perhaps they assume that British expatriates will make their own arrangements. That said, a version of BBC Entertainment is available in Latin America, with Spanish subtitles.

    The only people in the rest of the world who can watch BBC One, BBC Two and ITV are members of the British forces, who can watch them courtesy of BFBS – and civilians in the Falkland Islands, who watch them timeshifted. BFBS TV’s available in Ministry of Defence properties in Gibraltar, but doubt that the MoD will allow anyone else on the Rock to watch it, even though GBC is hardly in a position to compete.

  17. With all due respect – parties are losing the plot again. The business of receiving bbc etc in Thailand or Australia or timbuctoo is completely irrelevant and in any case if I read it right it is not a direct broadcast as I t presently is in Spain, which I believe is the point calpense was making.
    What us happening is that the bbc and other channels are changing their way of broadcasting the signal – something they have every right to do as they are not obligated to provide tv to spain or anywhere except the uk. This blog is about ways of still receiving this signal and that is all.

  18. To “ex old bill”
    For your information I gave a sky +HD wifi box and a Linksys uk VPN router connected. This gives me all the sky channels plus all the sky catchup and on demand programs. I also have an iPad and Mac connected to the tv via Apple TV which gives me filmon. But my point was that there is no obligation for bbc to transmit to Spain. As Jamie gas said there are ways and means if still reviving the signal – there are also a plethora of companies out there selling IPTV and other boxes.

  19. For EX OLD BILL:

    To answer some of your questions, you first of all need a good internet connection. Then, if you want to receive some of the UK TV channels for FREE, you need to use a free DNS service like the one I use to hide the fact that you are not in the UK. There are a few tweeks to make but they are not beyond most intelligent people.

    I have dedicate a tweeked laptop to watching UK TV live and to downloading programmes to watch later. The laptop sits next to my TV and is connected to it with an HDMI cable. I don’t need to use it yet as we still have Freesat until February hopefully. However, when I miss a programme I should have at least recorded on my Panasonic box but didn’t because I forgot, I find it on BBC iPlayer and dowmload it. It plays back in very good quality and with no buffering of course.

    The better your internet connection, the better the reception of course, so get that part sorted first of all. Then if you later invest in something like an IPTV box (my Blade Mag-250 is very good) for more convenience (an EPG and more available channels), your good broadband speed will have been a good investment too.

    Bill (in Portugal)

  20. Chris said:

    I watch filmon and I would hate to lose it. There is no ip blocking. When in England I sometimes watch iplayer. In Spain iplayer is blocked. Are there any alternatives that are not blocked?

    Hi Chris.

    A good point.

    I presume you are asking about free streams. As far as I know FilmOn is the only source of free UK TV streams that is not blocked. Although FilmOn has blocked UK TV at least once previously, back in March this year. See:

    “http://forums.digitalspy.co.uk/showthread.php?p=65218094?”
    “http://support.unblock-us.com/customer/portal/questions/877818-filmon-uk-channels”

    It could be that FilmOn will resort to UK TV blocking again, as part of a strategy to avoid the shut down of their UK TV streams.

    You probably know that there is no ideal solution and so, if one wants free TV, then one has to compromise.

    Yes, iPlayer is blocked – but, on the plus side, iPlayer streams in SD and HD for free whereas, with FilmOn, you pay about £14 per month for their version of HD (more like SD).

    For iPlayer outside the UK you need a proxy or smart DNS or a VPN to unblock the stream. An unblocking service typically costs about 5€ per month.

    I think the best free alternative to live UK “Freesat” TV, and the alternative that is most similar to FilmOn, is TVCatchup. As is the case with FilmOn, TVCatchup re-broadcasts the main Freesat channels itself and so provides a uniform user interface for selecting chanels. TVC calls this a “one stop shop” for UK TV. What I particularly like about TVC is the electronic programme guide (EPG). It makes selecting and changing channels very easy.

  21. I was surprised to see general criticism of posters to this blog on the grounds that they contribute very little. Most of those who post ask for help and are not in a position to contribute.

    I was particularly surprised to see criticism of Paul. He has explained his internet hardware several times. One of the important components of an internet TV solution is a proxy or a VPN. Paul is the first one, in fact the only one, on this blog who has independently sourced a reasonably priced router suitable for a VPN, provided the details, had the router installed and reported back here how it provides Sky + On Demand channels.

    Paul stated: “This blog is about ways of still receiving this signal and that is all” I guess he meant ‘ways of still receiving UK TV’. So, agreed, that was a bit confusing.

    What was really confusing was the sudden, out of context, post from ‘calpense’ – for a first post and in the form of answers to questions that nobody had asked, it seemed as though calpense was posting to the wrong blog. What was even more surprising was that anyone bothered to reply.

  22. Odg. Filmon cheapest solution. Free and with a 75£ apple v box via TV – good.
    Old billy – remember that if you “share” an Internet connection, that connection speed must be at least 4-6 Mbps and even then may (may) be problematic.

  23. Hi Paula

    Why are you looking for an alternative? Can you no longer access FilmOn or are you happy with FilmOn and wanting two low cost boxes to run it?

    Do you have an iPhone or iPad or Android table or phone?

    Some options have been discussed on here in the last week.

    Also, take a look at this blog:

    “http://jamestonbradley.wordpress.com/2013/12/”

  24. FILMON

    One of my Sky boxes broke down last week and so I have been using my Smart TV box in the bedroom to watch the BBC news on Filmon. I get a download speed of around 5 Mbps at the Android box. The picture quality is very acceptable on my 22 inch Samsung TV so I should really be quite happy. Except that every now and then, the service stops and I have to restart Filmon from scratch. Also, Filmon occasionally stops with the message that my HD trial has ended. As I have not been watching in HD, this is very annoying.

    All in all, I am not over excited about Filmon. I want a service that does not stop mysteriously for no good reason. I can just about put up with the same boring advert every time I select a channel but I also want an uninterrupted viewing of a programme.

  25. Paul P:

    The only Filmon apps for Android I can find are on Google Play. I have downloaded them all and they all have adverts when you select a TV channel. I don’t know where you got a plugin for Filmon.

    Can anyone else throw any light on this?

  26. Bill:

    The GI Genius box is a Linux based system with an Enigma 2 image and an ad-free Filmon plugin, not an Android system. You asked a while ago about these boxes from a dealer in Portugal which you thought your friends and neighbours might be intersted in. I provided the contact details on 10th December.

    Hope this helps.

  27. I have filmon on my iPad, Mac, and iPhones (obviously the IOS version). And, whilst I hardly use it at the moment, I have been playing with it a bit, and notice, that an initial advert comes up when I change channels, but you can skip this by clicking the skip box. It immediately disappears and the selected channel kicks in. I stream it to my TV via the Apple TV box, and it works perfectly – picture quality superb, and there is even a record facility, which can cope with up to 4 days in advance, on any channel.

    I have to say, that if we can live with the lag between channels it may be the way forward, with sky catch up and on demand as a backup. We shall see, but I have no problem with it.

  28. Hi Bill

    This whole business of FilmOn and the apps/addons can be confusing, as was illustrated by some of the discussion here about the future of FilmOn itself over the last few weeks.

    If a FilmOn app or addon stops working you cannot assume that FilmOn no longer works. To check if FilmOn is still working, go to their website and try the web version of their UK TV.

    The Google apps are normally 3rd party applications. The same is true of the addons (plugins). FilmOn is not responsible for those plugins.

    A few weeks ago it was reported that FilmOn was not working. The post from the MrSkyTV business stated:

    at present Filmon is not available on the Android platform and has not been available via TSMEDIA for 5 days! Hundreds of very upset clients calling a certain wholesaler that was selling these!

    One set-top box (perhaps the only box) that runs the TSMedia plugin is the GI Genius box, as sold by MrSkyTV. I imagine that clients, including their clients, were very upset at the time. But it is the 3rd party supplier of the plugin whose plugin has failed, although they cannot necessarily be held responsible. The owner of the box needs to be aware that a plugin may fail to stream and that you may need to wait for an alternative plugin to be available.

    I note from Paul P’s post and a much earlier post from James Gold that an updated plugin has fixed FilmOn on the GI Genius.

    Bill said:

    The only Filmon apps for Android I can find are on Google Play. I have downloaded them all and they all have adverts when you select a TV channel. I don’t know where you got a plugin for Filmon.

    A Google app must not be confused with a plugin or addon. They are different systems. A Google app is designed for an Android. A plugin is designed, for example, for the GI Genius box and for XBMC.

    Yes – Google FilmOn apps generally show adverts.

    Bill said:

    Also, Filmon occasionally stops with the message that my HD trial has ended. As I have not been watching in HD, this is very annoying

    I think you know that the normal behaviour for FilmOn on an Android is to stream HD for about 30secs, then the stream stops with a message about switching to SD. I mentioned that to you in November:

    If the interface works as it normally does, you’ll first get about 30seconds of HD when the stream starts

    So, unless what you describe above is the standard 30sec HD followed by the prompt to subscribe – then it does seem there is a problem with your app or the Android box.

    It is likely, given that you have tried all the Google FilmOn apps, that the only way you will get advert free FilmOn with your current hardware is to install XBMC on your Windows7 machine.

  29. @Jamie

    Thank you for your reply. A blocked filmon is better than no filmon. I understand that we are all going to have to compromise. I am happy to have filmon to get me through the weeks after the switch off and to take it from there. If filmon goes then I will try a free trial of a vpn or smarty dns for a week and consider my options. Have you any advice about that?

    TVcatchup looks good. I am in England for xmas and so will try it out. I have an ipad but I am thinking of a dedicated iptv box for a more permanent solution. Perhaps an android box.

    @mrskytv

    Thank you. From your description hola is used with a web browser. That will be ok on my laptop. Will hola work on an iptv box?

  30. FILMON

    Thank you all for your responses. It looks as though I will have to put up with the monotonous advert on Filmon as there is no facility to switch off adverts on the Android apps. As I already have an Android Smart TV box and a Google Nexus 7 tablet, I don’t intend to buy another type of computer for watching Filmon. Amazingly, the silly message about HD and the unexplained interruptions have not occurred again since I complained on this thread. Must be a good place to complain!

  31. Chris:

    I have tried TVCatchup from Portugal with many Smart DNS services and with a few VPN trials. TVCatchup detects that I am not in the UK every time. When I emailed the VPN providers, they admitted that TVCatchup was too smart for them and was actively detecting VPNs. Best of luck if you still want to try TVCatchup. It’s a pity because it looks like a good way of getting to the best TV channels quickly.

    Having played around with Android, on a Smart TV box and on a Google Nexus 7 tablet, I have concluded that a Windows 7 computer connected to a TV is easier if you want to stream live TV or download a programme to watch later. My Smart TV box does not fill a 22 inch TV screen either, so the picture would look stupid on the big TV in the sitting room. The tablet does not connect to a TV and is therefore best used in the mobile situation or when lying in a hospital bed!

    I would recommend an IPTV box, such as the Blade MAG-250, and a managed TV streaming service from a reputable dealer like MrSkyTV in Spain or Marc Electronica in the Algarve. They have been providing a satellite TV service in the Iberian peninsular for many years and intend to stay in business by providing the alternative TV service when the big switch off happens.

  32. Hi Chris

    I am happy to have filmon to get me through the weeks after the switch off

    I think that is the best strategy. Anyone who is already geared up to use FilmOn is already prepared for the switchover and the possible switch off in February. There are no guarantees but it seems very unlikely that UK FilmOn itself (I don’t mean a 3rd party app or addon) will be shut down by February.

    A free trial of an unblocking service is a good stop-gap in the event that FilmOn does close at some point. It will also provide breathing space if you need to source another FilmOn app or addon. A smart DNS or a proxy is easier to set up than a VPN and will provide access to iPlayer and itvPlayer live and catchup.

    As Bill has pointed out, TVCatchup (TVC) is a harder nut. A smart DNS or a proxy will not work and TVCatchup is vigilant about unblocking. Their main, maybe their only, strategy is to monitor multiple concurrent users at the same UK IP address. So, AFAIK, TVCatchup does not “actively detect VPNs”. FilmOn simply assume that multiple users on the same IP are attempting to unblock the streams – even if they are not. FilmOn then blacklists that IP. You therefore need a UK IP shared by just a few users or, better still, unique to a single user.

    At least one broadband provider in the Malaga region (BB4S) provides a unique IP (BB4S calls it a proxy). See:

    “http://bb4s.com/documents/iptv.html”

    Of course, if one already has broadband via landline then one may not wish to change provider. I know of a neighbour who has switched and has had the landline removed.

    Extract from the BB4S site:

    Question: Can I use BBC Iplayer, ITV player etc?
    Answer: Generally these services are blocked to users that are outside of the United Kingdom (using a non-UK IP address). However it is possible to access these services if you use a “UK proxy service”, such services are available to buy on the Internet for around €10/month. bb4s provides a free proxy server for all of our customers.
    Using the bb4s proxy you can currently access live BBC and ITV channels FREE for example: “tvcatchup.com”

    Note the answer states you can currently access live BBC and ITV channels FREE for example: “tvcatchup.com”

    Anyone thinking of using BB4S is advised to verify the above if they want to use TVC. For the 30€ per month fee, BB4S includes a telephone. They state:

    Our BB4S phone uses your broadband Antenna to provide a telephone service that works just like an ordinary landline.

    Free installation
    Free Calls to regular and International Landlines
    Low cost calls to Mobiles (Cheaper than Skype)
    Free UK 0844 local rate number
    Clear & reliable call quality
    Regular monthly statement and billing

    You can see that the most reliable way to unblock TVC is to have a UK IP address shared by just a few. Try a Google search for a VPN on “unique UK IP VPN” without the quotes.
    Ignore the ads in the hits list.

    Streaming from iPad Direct to your TV

    You probably do not want to use your iPad as a set-top box. However, the iPad can stream wirelessly to an Apple TV box connected to the TV (explained by Paul). The streaming uses ‘Airplay’, which is supported by the Apple TV box.

    XBMC also supports Airplay. The cheapest way to stream from an iPad to your TV is XBMC running on the Raspberry Pi (about £45).

    See this video:

    “http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XNgJTRbC0AE”

    When the video starts just let it run (after stopping the ad). Don’t be tempted to click the video on how to set up XBMC – labelled “RaspbMC (XBMC) Setup” – the method he describes is a bit too technical.

    Given that you are in the UK over Christmas then you may be interested in getting a Raspberry Pi. A good alternative to an Android box. Very good for iPlayer catchup. The FilmOn addon is advert free. Worth the money just for Airplay. See this link for the detail on how to set up XBMC on a Raspberry Pi:

    “http://jamestonbradley.wordpress.com/2013/12/18/xbmc-internet-tv-set-top-box-on-the-raspberry-pi-computer/”

  33. @Jamie

    Thank you for all that information.

    I like the idea of streaming from the ipad.

    @Bill Bullock

    Thank you. I will see how I get on with filmon and the other free options. I am not sure about a managed service. I don’t know how reliable those streams are.

  34. I have to say that everything I have seen and read about raspberry pi, backs up what Mr Sky says. It does look extremely tricky from the videos I have watched, and I (also a fairly technically minded 66 year old, having programmed computers since 1963) would not be happy trying it!!

    I am happy with the Sky+ Catchup and iPad/apple TV for filmon at the moment, and will probably go with the Astra2TV system, which is the best I have seen, when the changeover happens.

    But, and a big but, wait until February to see if anything actually happens, as we have been down this road so many times now.

    Happy Christmas everyone.

  35. Excellent post Mr Skytv

    We had been considering the rasberry but after reading the above and making a few yahoo searches, have decided to get the mag box instead as we do not want to rely on 3rd party unknown people for plugsin.

    We wondered why Jameston Bradley was spending so much time on this Blog it now appears that it was to promote the rasberry pi, we also noted the lack of response to several people that asked what would happen if the filmon got shut down.

    We will be in Sotogrande from January 5th please get in touch, I sent you an email.

    Enjoy the holidays

    Merry Xmas

    Hilary

  36. Good morning. I hope you all had a good Christmas.

    Hilary said, “we have decided to get the mag box instead as we do not want to rely on 3rd party unknown people for plugins.”

    The problem is that you would still be relying on unknown 3rd parties to supply the stream used by these boxes and the suppliers are just as likely to disappear (if not more so) than Filmon who have massive resources.

    The source of proprietary streams used by the Mag 250 and similar systems will be rigorously pursued and shut down by the broadcasters if they originate from within the UK and if they are received on satellite systems in Europe they may not survive the shut down themselves.

    Mag 250 boxes are normally supplied flashed with firmware specific to one stream supplier and although MrSkyTv has mentioned they have sourced a supplier who will allow existing owners of Mag 250 boxes to connect to their service for a fee, most suppliers will not do this as they want to make a killing on the sale of the Mag 250 which can be purchased for a fraction of the price they charge. There is also no more guarantee that a second source will be any more reliable than the first.

    MrSkytv have supplied a lot of useful information but it should be born in mind that they are a business with a vested interest and their information and advice should be considered in this light.

    I think too much is made of the possibility or even probability that Filmon will be closed down. There is no current evidence to support this. The truth is that no one really knows how reliable any of these sources are going to be, especially when they come under the intense demand placed on their resources by many thousands of expats connecting to their servers.

    My advice would be to wait until after the shut down has occurred and then see who is able to supply a reliable service, or if the idea of being without UK TV for even a short time is unacceptable, to buy a cheap Linux based combined satellite/IPTV system with access to Filmon and UK catchup services for around €125. I would be reluctant to pay an inflated price for a box locked to a stream which also has a monthly fee until I was certain it would survive the change over.

    Best wishes to all for a happy, healthy and UK TV filled 2014.

  37. Just had a scroll through what is probably the longest thread ever seen on Olive Press, and regardless of all the advice on here (some good, some rather vested), my own approach remains unchanged from what it was all those months ago when this topic first kicked off. That is : “Wait and see”. The switch-off now looks as though it won’t happen until mid-February at the earliest, so I’m pleased I didn’t jump onto the first band-wagon that came along. In my case, with an excellent download speed and unlimited download limit, a VPN still looks like the best bet, although what the impact of potentially tens of thousands of ex-pats all competing for the same data streams will be remains to be seen. Interesting times ahead…

  38. Fact is that you don’t need a IPTV, since there are satellite solutions already available that broadcast all the main UK channels. Ironic too that it has been available for years. Strange that noone on here mentioned that lol.

    The thread can be closed btw, OP.

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