Receiving British TV outside the UK by Philip Suter
For many years holiday home owners and "ex-Pats" have been able to watch their favourite BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and 5 programmes from the comfort of their armchairs hundreds of miles from Britain via satellite. Then the signals became weaker as newer satellites were put into orbit and the "footprint" became narrower.
The reception in countries like Italy, Portugal and Spain went completely, although this was not affecting reception on SKY TV. (Please note - August 14 this not true in Spain according to the "Sat and PC Guy" website - Details here )
In February this year the signal to France was changed, which means that viewers in the south of the country have had to buy even larger dishes.
Understandably the argument as far as the BBC is concerned is that the British public funds the BBC via the licence fee and that service is for those living in the UK. The BBC does earn good money from selling its products to other broadcasters and so will ITV, Channel and Channel 5. The BBC is now having to fund the BBC World Service Radio and cut backs have had to be made and the BBC of course require more income.
The licence fee cannot be increased without agreement with the British Government and there must be thousands of people who live in Italy, Spain, France, Greece, Portugal, Cyprus and the Scandinavian countries who would watch British TV if the could. If you want to watch SKY TV (other than SKY News) you have to pay a monthly subscription.
Surely a solution to this would be that BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and 5 and the Irish Networks RTE, TG4, TV3 etc are broadcast from their own satellite or even one of the newer ones with a very wide footprint but with an encrypted signal. This would mean no one outside the UK and Ireland (apart from an area very close to the coast) without having to pay a subscription of say £25 per month. The TV companies would have much needed additional income and no one could then claim that these "ex-pat" viewers were getting something for nothing.
Clearer large footprint transmissions would mean that the receiving dishes would not have to be nearly two metres wide as in the right hand photo, but nearer the size of a dish in Britain and Ireland like the one on the left hand side. Installation costs would be a lot more reasonable and viewing cards registered and sent to the viewer's address wherever that might be.
Commercial TV companies like ITV of course could say their advertisers are not benefiting from advertising a bedding sale in England, however many advertisers are selling products that are sold all over mainland Europe. ITV of course would have additional income from it's share of monthly viewing card subscription.
If these networks have got together enabling fewer people in mainland Europe to view British TV, they could easily get together to enable more people to view and be paid for the service.
Why stop there increased paying viewers could also be national residents of a given country. Spanish, French or Italians who want to improve their language skills and enjoying watching soaps like EastEnders, Coronation Street, Hollyoaks or Fair City, with subtitles in English available.
If anyone is interested in raising this idea with the appropriate broadcasting authorities or suggesting other forums to place this on it would be interesting to hear from you - Contact here. If you wish to post this article on a discussion forum please do so.
©Philip Suter - July 2014
The link and subject matter of the article above was added to the "Riviera Reporter" magazine forum that has been operating in the Var / Alpes Martimes region in south east France since 1987. The founder Mike Meade replied on the 25-7-14 "Philip, we've been through all this before. The problem isn't a licence fee or money changing hands. It's territorial copyrights on broadcast material. Believe me, if it was as simple as encryption and openly collecting a licence fee from the millions of overseas expats, the problem would have been solved long ago.
It's MUCH more complicated than that. Every time someone shakes the bush on this, the BBC, Sky and others are pressured into cracking down by the content providers and things get worse for all of us. Expats should just take whatever measures they can to receive whatever they can and keep a low profile. Raking this very old issue up yet another time can only create more problems. For 30 years this has been the case and it can't change because the legal framework is world wide, not just the UK and overseas expats"
An interesting comment from Mike about territorial copyrights on broadcast material. As more and more people listen to the radio via the Internet, you will find for example trying to listen to BBC Radio 5 Live outside the UK that you will not be able to receive a football match comentary. If there were problems with territorial copyrights then if the programmes were coming over a subscription sateliite system, there could easily be a message on the screen along the lines of "Due to legal reasons this programme cannot be screened outside the UK" etc.
For many years it has been possible to receive BBC 1 and BBC2 in countries like Belgium and the Netherlands via cable TV with part of the cable subscription fee going to the BBC. In France for example you can receive at least eight Italian TV channels, many from RAI via subscription to the Orange Internet cable TV system, unfortunately BT Internet does not appear to offer this service.
January 2015 - A visit to the south part of Tenerife in late December, early January, we found the hotel well equipped with a variety of TV channels - Spanish, Italian, French, German and English. From this island off the west coast of the African continent, BBC1 London, BBC2, ITV Channel 4, Film 4 etc was coming through loud and clear. Whether the hotel was using a dish like the one in the picture (they did have one that size) seen on an adjoining property or by some other means it was good to know that English TV could still be viewed (Channel 5 was not working) along with other European country's TV channels. Taking on a little research on-line it looks like a 2.4 metre satellite dish will cost €2,500.00 and a 2.9 metre satellite Dish will set you back €3,500.00. You will certainly need a large property to put one of these in.
Source of images, unless otherwise stated - Suter family archives