Many expats on the Costa del Sol and other mediterranean regions rely on satellite TV to get their British TV either by Freesat or Sky. Recent changes to the satellites being used to broadcast the signal has meant that viewers here in Spain have lost Channel 5 (and 5+1, 5* etc) and Channel 4 HD along with some other channels. This is because the new satellite being used (Astra 2F) has a tighter beam much more focused on the UK than the old Astra satellite (Astra 28), making reception this far south impossible on existing equipment.

Further channels are expected to be moved to the new Astra 2F and more new satellites are due to be launched in 2013 and 2014, which will ultimately take over all the British channels currently being broadcast on Astra 28. If the new satellites have the same beam focus as the recently launched satellite, no one will be able to pick up British TV with their existing equipment.

Technically of course, the BBC should only be available to license payers in the UK, and similarly Sky TV is only legally available to British viewers with Sky subscriptions.

Spot Beam From New Astra 2F Satellite

Spot Beam From New Astra 2F Satellite

Whether either the BBC, Sky or the ITV companies have any interest in broadcasting outside the UK is open to question, so it is unlikely they will demand a wider footprint for the new satellites, leaving British TV viewers in the Costa del Sol with an uncertain future.

There are two obvious solutions to the problem. The first is for users to increase the size of their satellite dish to a much larger 2 metre or higher dish to try and pick up the weaker signals. Until the new satellites are launched and it is known how strong the new signals are, it is not possible to know if this would be a workable solution.

The other option is to get British TV online via home computers, although the BBCs iPlayer is not officially available outside the UK, there are various services to get round this limitation such as Expat Shield, so that users can watch British TV on their laptops or PCs.

There are also internet TV boxes like YouView which receive British TV through the internet, although again this is unlikely to work directly without a service like Expat Shield and users would have to have a good internet connection speed to be able to use this to its full potential.

Only time will tell what is going to happen with the new satellites and what will be the best solutions to get Coronation Street and Eastenders back on Costa del Sol TVs.

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Heading to Nerja next week, does anyone know if any the bars or clubs have any any flamenco shows booked, im a sucker for all that......
by Thomas Ryan

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