Friday 25 July 2014

Receiving British TV outside the UK

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. Reception in countries like Italy, Portugal and Spain went completely, although this was not affecting reception on SKY TV.

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.