17 Jan, 2014 @ 18:03
1 min read

The ‘Big Switch Off’ draws closer for British TV viewers in Spain as new satellite starts to move

News astra launch

EXCLUSIVE By Claire Wilson

THE COUNTDOWN to the ‘Big Switch Off’ has just begun.

The clock is now ticking on free-to-air British television being received in southern Spain after a much-publicised satellite finally started moving into place.

Rumours emerged a couple of days ago that it was heading west towards its destination, and have since been confirmed by those in the know.

At its current velocity the satellite would arrive at its destination in 33 days. But, it is expected to speed up.

The satellite has been a hot topic of conversation across Andalucia since news of its launch broke last year.

It has been the most commented post on the Olive Press website after it emerged that the BBC, and possibly ITV, will transmit via the new satellite.

Expats have taken to the Olive Press site in their droves searching for a solution to their forthcoming woe.

Most are keen to establish how they can carry on watching the at-risk channels following the satellite switch off, which could happen at any time from once it is in place.

“The countdown has definitely begun,” explained Mike Crompton of IPTV company Mediastreamz. “It is going to be just a matter of weeks now before most people’s TV screens start looking pretty sad.

“I hope they have some solution in place.”

The satellite is being introduced to substitute the old Astra 2D satellite that rapid declined in performance after a few years in use.

The BBC has already made an announcement that it will be using the more powerful UK spot beams which means British viewers in Spain are likely to lose the signal.

Although launched in late 2000, the performance of Astra 2D 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.

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 now about to change when 1N will be moved back to its original slot and all British channels will be moved to the new ‘big birds’ called Astra 2E and 2F.

Thousands of expats in Andalucia are converned about the moves, after Channel 5 and various ITV channels vanished from their screens in December 2012.

Claire Wilson

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  1. The satellite should arrive at its operational location on 31 January. It should be fully operational by mid-Feb.

    Switch off is a misnomer. The transmissions will switch over from the old to the new Astra 2E satellite. The switch over may take about a week – although it is possible that the switch over of those channels, of most interest to UK TV viewers, will occur over the course of a single night.

    If you, as seems very, very likely in the south west of Spain, are not able to receive the UK transmissions from the new satellite, then it will effectively be a switch off.

    This ‘switch off’ will probably occur in the second week of February.

    It is unlikely the BBC, and possibly ITV, will transmit via the new satellite

    On the contrary – BBC and ITV will broadcast from the 2E on its UK beam. That is the reason that those broadcasts will be too weak to receive in South Andalucia.

    The exception is that Sky account holders, who can receive Sky’s HD transmissions, should be able to receive ITV 2, 3 and 4 HD and Channel 4 HD transmissions. Why – because they, along with other Sky encrypted transmissions, will probably continue to be broadcast on a pan-European beam.

  2. Some of my comment above appears to be redundant. When I wrote it, the original article must have still been an initial draft. It ended:

    Most are keen to establish how they can carry on watching the at-risk channels following the satellite switch off, which could happen at any time.

    and so contained none of the explanation from Mike Crompton.

    The 2E satellite is still travelling at 0.85° per day. It is now at 39° east and so has 10.8° to go to reach the operational orbit at 28.2° east. It will almost certainly maintain its current speed until it descends for ‘parking’.

    Based on the above, it will arrive in about 13 days and so should arrive at about mid-day (12.00 GMT) on 31 January.

  3. It’s down to copyright rules. The lawyers for the film-makers want to sell their products to various different buyers, thus they fraction Europe as best they can into country-size lumps. There should be a pan-European rule for telecasters.
    Meanwhile, in a hotel in Granada, they had untold Spanish channels, four in German, two in Italian, one in French and one in English. The English one was Russia Today!
    C’mon Europe, get it together!

  4. You can watch UK TV on a number of websites with a re-broadcasting service which is totally free. I think a lot of peoplare are trying t omake a quick buck out of this and I am still not convinced its going to happen anyway!

  5. My fixed line broadband slows down to a crawl on evenings and weekends so internet tv would not be an option for me. I get several UK channels (ITV 1 2 4, BBC 1 2 4) via the tv cable that comes into my apartment block. I’m assuming they will disappear so I’ll just have to watch the Spanish stuff. The local bars could be seeing a lot more of me soon!

  6. I believes you can get IPTV with only 1mbps download speed. BBC iplayer streams not same as http. Just go rent a UK-based IPTV VPN service and quit whining. If it no work, you have paid for 1 month and can stop paying. But remember, the VPN must be in UK for BBC stuffs to work. Same for FilmOn for British local tv. TVCatchup is pretty much not working for most channels now for anyone. I have a good service for my home and not need a very big ugly dish outside. If I watch BBC iplayer or ITV player catchup, it ok even when speed slow as the vpn uses a speed up called compression.

  7. Hi

    As of 10.30am this morning we lost all freeview tv and radio channels – has anyone else? We are in fuengirola area.

    At least Barcelona football game is on spanish tv tonight!

  8. The 2E Satellite has Arrived



    SES has confirmed that:

    This morning the satellite arrived at its operational orbit and will be operational from tomorrow 1 February.

    This means that SES will probably light up some transponders (transmitters) for testing – so hopefully we’ll get the first news of the footprint from the UK spot beam that will carry UK TV channels.

    The reception of those transmissions from the UK beam is, of course, the main concern for followers of this blog. We’ll not get reports of the signal strength in fringe areas (including Southern and Eastern Europe) direct from SES. Amateur satellite followers will provide the data where possible.

    For South West Iberia the big question is will the reception hotspot positions correspond to the sister satellite, the Astra 2F or will the hotspots have moved sufficiently for the possibility of reception in the South West.

    The SES statement:

    ASTRA 2E has now been deployed at its final destination in the orbital arc of 28.2/28.5 degrees East . . .

    the ASTRA 2E satellite enters into commercial service in the orbital arc of 28.2/28.5 degrees East on February 1, 2014 . . .

    Over the coming weeks, BSkyB, Channel4, ITV and BBC programming in this arc will be transitioned to the new satellite with its powerful footprint over the British Isles.

  9. Or you could pick up a “NOW TV” box or an Apple TV box, part with $4 a month to “unblock-us”; and watch UK TV over the internet.

    No – I don’t work for any of the above. Yes – I use it and it works nicely. Nicely enough that I might even dump my “now tv” box and buy a smart TV.

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