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Satellite television

With a satellite television installation it is possible to receive pretty much all the British channels including BBC, ITV, Channels 4 and 5, and Sky. See here for Freesat.

The first thing to do is to decide which satellite you wish to receive channels from. There are hundreds of TV satellites in orbit above the earth. Each of them is placed in a stationary orbit which means that they are always located at a fixed position in the sky. To receive signals your dish must point directly at your chosen satellite. The alignment must be exact so this means one dish can generally only receive signals from one satellite. The satellite which 95% of English speakers in Germany choose is the Astra satellite. This carries all the BBC and Sky channels that you will want. Alternatives might be Intelsat or Eutelsat's Hot Bird.

Buying a Satellite System

Suitable satellite dishes are available at many of large home technology stores in Germany. For the Astra satellite you will need a 45cm to 90cm diameter dish. 45cm will get you most of the channels. For BBC and ITV it is recommended you get a 90cm dish. The best option is probably to buy a complete satellite installation set (in German: Sat-Anlage). This includes the dish, the LNB (Low Noise Block-downconvertor, i.e. the bit that sticks out in front of the dish to pick up the signals), the decoder box, and brackets for mounting the dish to your wall. Complete sets are available at Wal-Mart or Mediamarkt. The photo below shows satellite systems at Wal-Mart.

Installing a satellite system

The exact alignment of your dish depends on where in the world you are located. For Munich residents wanting to receive Astra the dish must be pointing exactly 19.2' East. or 28'2 for Astra2 (a compass bearing of approx 159º in Munich), and with an elevation of 32' above the horizon. Achieving the exact alignment can be a tricky process and to do this you definitely need a compass. The wall-brackets have markings on them which help with getting the correct elevation. For fine tuning the alignment you can use a signal strength detector. These are small electronic devices which can be bought for around €30 from Conrad.

For finding the correct alignment for your particular geographic location, see: dishpointer.com

If fiddling with alignments, and signal detectors, etc. sounds too complicated, or if you don't have the DIY tools and skills for mounting a dish to your wall, then it's best to call in professional help.

Many of the Astra channels are free to view. For the pay-per-view channels you additionally need a Sky subscription and a Digibox. The Digibox is a piece of hardware built by Sky which reads your Sky subscription card and decodes the channels you have subscribed to. Sky subscriptions are normally only available to residents in the United Kingdom. If you live in Germany, however, you can subscribe via a third party provider.

Regulations about dish installation

When renting an apartment in Germany, many contracts forbid the installation of of a satellite dish, either on the wall or on the balcony. These contracts may, however, be illegal. All foreigners in Germany have the right to receive television in their native language. For further info see the related chat forum topic: Satellite dish installation regulations and law - Germany

See also:

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