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Big changes are afoot on the Costa del Sol for English speaking residents and holidaymakers who enjoy maintaining their British television viewing habits while in Spain.
Those ‘back home’ are often surprised to learn that in Spain we can view most of the same channels that they do, thanks to the wonders of SKY satellite television. Some apartments benefit from community SKY systems while others, along with most villa owners, need their own large satellite dish and digibox in order to watch their favourite British soaps, documentaries and reality TV shows.
It has been widely reported in the English language press in Spain that some of the television channels we know and love (including BBC1, 2, 3 and 4, ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5) are due to be moved to a new ASTRA satellite, which will have a smaller footprint and may not be accessible from Andalucia using our current satellite dishes. And while it is virtually impossible to make any claims against the satellite and television companies (officially these channels are only available to UK domestic viewers), there is a practical solution.
Some experts are suggesting that bigger satellite dishes (around three metres) are the answer but these would be expensive and unsightly. And since many of the households affected have access to reliable and fast Internet, it seems sensible to make the most of what they already have!
Streaming television programmes via the Internet is much more straightforward and economical than it may sound! There are already a number of websites and apps you can access to watch a good selection of UK channels for free (for example, www.filmon.com) although some of those sites with a more comprehensive listing do require you to pay a monthly fee and subscribe to an ‘identity cloak’ which is a method of hiding the fact that your internet provider is actually in Spain rather than the UK. This will sound complicated to those not used to watching TV via a computer, but as with satellite television, once set up it is very easy to use and for most, will be a cheaper option than subscribing to a full SKY television connection.
Those wanting a Freeview type service will be pleased to know that some of the satellite television companies on the Costa del Sol are already offering digital streaming boxes available to purchase for around 130 euros with a subscription fee of 24 euros per month. These gadgets require an Internet connection but no identity cloak and no satellite dish. Most of them also have a catch up facility so that you can go back and watch any of your favourite programmes that you missed during the previous 14 days.
The BBC, aware of its large overseas audience, is also working hard to increase the ways that viewers abroad can watch their favourite television programmes. Their Worldwide service offers BBC Entertainment, BBC Knowledge, BBC Lifestyle, CBeebies and BBC World News to television screens across the world, Perhaps more excitingly, they have also launched and continue to improve their Global iPlayer enabling users of iPads and iPhones to access their on demand service to watch a good selection of British TV shows (for a monthly or annual fee).
Today’s televisions are super sophisticated and many are ‘smart’ or ‘internet’ sets meaning they have already been designed to connect to the Internet and stream television programmes and films. Don’t worry – you won’t be limited to watching your favourite soap on the small screen of your laptop or iPad!
Latest reports indicate that any further changes to the satellite systems and subsequent loss of channels will take place in the summer of 2013 so there is plenty of time for those in the know to investigate the best solutions for the average British television viewer on the Costa del Sol. Watch this space as more information becomes available on who to contact when you need to update your television viewing experience. (source: Altavista Property)