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Receive British TV channels in Germany

DEUTSCHE VERSION

Numerous English language TV channels from Great Britain can be received unencrypted via satellite on the 28.2° East position (also known as "Astra 2").
But instead of covering all of Europe evenly, the broadcasting of most of the channels is focussed on the British Isles. This limits reception in the eastern half of Germany dramatically.

Between the end of 2013 and early 2014 broadcasting was changed to the new satellites Astra 2E and 2F. In 2015 some of the channels moved on to Astra 2G. All their spot beams are even stronger focussed on Great Britain than the spot beams of the previously used satellites. Many viewers in the middle and eastern parts of Germany lost reception due to the changeover.
At least the new satellites have a life expectance of 15 years, so you can assume that reception conditions will not again change dramatically at least till 2027.

Reception of the spot beams keeps being unproblematic in the western third of Germany. The more eastern you live, the bigger the necessary dish diameter will be. Spot beam reception in the eastern third fails completely.

The following map for Astra 2E and 2F is only meant to be a rough guide:

Reception map for Astra 2E/2F spot beam in Germany

Please also watch these other maps:

On constantinmedia.com you can find interactive maps with real reception results reported by users:
Interactive map for the UK spot beam of Astra 2E
Interactive map for the UK spot beam of Astra 2F
Interactive map for the UK spot beam of Astra 2G
Another map based on experience with Astra 2F can be found here:
UK spot beam map at Google maps
You can contribute to these maps by adding reception data from your own location. The more users participate, the more precise these maps can become.

Please note that the coverages of Astra 2E, 2F and 2G are not completely identical. Astra 2E und 2F are quite similar. With Astra 2G we don't have enough experience yet; so far it looks like 2G has a similar coverage as 2E and 2F in Southern Germany, but a slightly worse coverage in Northern Germany.
Even within the satellites not all of the transponders are broadcasting with the same strenght: In border areas some channels might still be picked up while others are already out of reach. HDTV channels are a bit weaker than SDTV channels.

Reception varys with daytime; usually it's stronger during the days and weaker in the evenings. Positions of the satellites are also changing with the course of the year - and therefore reception is a bit weaker in summer and stronger in winter.

Furthermore there are user reports about an eastern "side lobe" of Astra 2F: It enables some (weak) reception in the area between Berlin and Dresden.

On the channel table on FlySat in the column "Foot Print" you can see which channels are currently being broadcast from which satellite. Most critical are "2E UK", "2F UK" and "2G UK", i.e. the UK spot beams.

Channels that are listed under "European" or "Super" are relatively easy to receive everywhere in Germany, even with smaller dishes.

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Questions and Answers

What happened to the well-known "Astra 2D" satellite?
It had reached the end of its live span and was switched off. Information specifically related to reception of Astra 2D are therefore obsolete.

What do I need at best to receive the free British TV channels in Germany?
You need a standard digital satellite receiver, an LNB and a satellite dish of proper size. Which minimum dish size you need depends on your location - see the map and information on top.

Can I also receive German TV using the same dish?
German and British networks are being broadcast from different satellite positions, i.e. for German channels you need to align the satellite dish differently than for British channels. But using a multifeed setup (i.e. two LNBs side by side) you can receive from both positions using only one dish and one receiver. Read details about this on Einführung and Multifeed (in German only).

Which British TV channels can I watch this way?
Freely available on satellite are e.g. BBC 1/2/3/4, ITV 1/2/3/4, Channel 4, E4, More 4, Film 4, Five, Five USA, Five Star, CBS Drama/Reality/Action, Horror Channel, True Movies 1/2, Movies4Men, Food Network UK, Travel Channel - and many more. See a complete list on freesat.co.uk.

Can't I watch any British channels if I live too far in the East?
Yes you can. Channels that are being broadcast on the pan-European beams can also be received in the East of Germany with dishes of at least 60 cm diameter. Their footprints on the FlySat table contains the words "Super" or "Europe".

Are there also British radio channels on satellite?
Yes. Besides the TV channels there is a number of radio channels available (see also freesat.co.uk). However many people find it cumbersome to listen to the radio using a stationary satellite receiver, so these days they would rather use web radio.

What does "Freesat" mean?
In Great Britain the unencryptet satellite channels are advertised as a package named "Freesat", and you can buy dedicated Freesat receivers there. But you can receive the British networks on any standard satellite receiver as well, so the Freesat receivers are not mandatory.

What's better: standard receivers or special Freesat receivers from Great Britain?
Both solutions have their pros and cons. A Freesat receiver is more comfortable: It enables a special EPG (Electronic Program Guide) and can update automatically whenever channels are added or reception data are changed. Additionally some Freesat receivers can access VOD content (Video-On-Demand) using an internet connection. But Freesat receivers can only be used for the British TV channels, not for German channels on 19.2° East.
A standard receiver (respectively a TV set with a built-in DVB-S tuner) can receive both British and German TV channels, so you need only one device for everything. But you have to set up the channels manually, and you don't get any extra features.

How can I search and sort the British TV channels on a standard receiver or a TV set with built-in DVB-S tuner?
ä In typical multifeed setups, you first need to find out how the LNB for the British TV channels can be accessed. (If your are using a simple dish for British networks only and connect it directly to your receiver, this consideration is not necessary. In this case, you can directly start the channel search.) You normally use a so called DiSEqC switch that merges the outputs of two LNBs into a single cable. If in your case e.g. Astra 1 (German TV) is connected as "LNB 1", the LNB for Astra 2 (British TV) might be connected as "LNB 2". Your receiver must be set up accordingly to switch between the LNBs correctly. Read more details on this subject on DiSEqC (in German only).
After this you can start the channel search. If available on your receiver, use an option to search only for free/FTA channels, not for encrypted channels. If your receiver is a bit older and doesn't contain the latest transponder lists for Astra 2, you may have to type in some frequencies manually. The list on FlySat can help with that (free SD channels are highlighted in the list in light blue, free HD channels are highlighted in light green).
Once all desired channels were found, they are still spread over several hundreds of positions and therefore need to be rearranged. It can be a bit confusing that there are several regional versions of some channels listet seperately; some channels additionally come in SD and HD versions. Just make up an order that seems practical for your habits. Alternatively you can set up favourite lists on some receivers.
From time to time single channels are moved to other frequencies, and sometimes new channels are launched or channels are shut off. In these cases you need to search and sort channels again. (It's the same procedure as with the German channels on Astra 1.)

Are the British TV channels available in HD quality?
All British TV channels are available in standard SDTV quality. A number of them is additionally being broadcast in HDTV quality.

What does +1 behind a channel name mean?
Many of the British TVs are additionally being broadcast on a seperate channel with an one hour delay. If you missed something on the regular channel, you can still watch it one hour later on the delayed version (with the +1 in its channel name).

Is free reception of British TV legal in Germany?
Yes. The British networks are indeed limiting reception outside the British Isles by using a satellite spot beam. But if reception is successful anyway, e.g. by using a larger dish, there is no legal restriction. It would be illegal to "crack" an encryption - but this is not necessary for the channels described here since they are not encrypted in the first place.

Autor: Andreas Beitinger
Letzte Änderung: September 2015

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