Print Posted By Lost in France on 22 Sep 2005 in Living in France - TV

Obtaining UK Television in France

Obtaining UK Television in France

The most common method of receiving UK TV in France is via satellite. You can do this via a SKY digibox, Freesat receiver or a free-to-air satellite receiver.

Free-to-air (meaning no monthly subscription) channels can be received by any SKY, Freesat or free-to-air digital receiver irrespective of whether it was purchased in the UK or France. Through these, you will be able to receive all the BBC & ITV channels, Channel 4, Five, More4, E4, CBS Drama, 5US, several news channels (Sky News for example), some film channels including Film4, quite a few other varied channels (shopping, religion etc) and numerous UK radio channels. These can all be received by aiming a satellite dish at the Astra 2 group of satellites located 28.2 degrees east of south. 

Whilst there are a few English language channels available via other satellites, these are very limited and are predominantly news based (BBC World, CNN etc). As noted above, the use of a SKY digibox or Freesat receiver is the most common way of receiving UK TV in France, as people moving here often bring their satellite receiver with them. The added bonus of a SKY digibox is that unlike non-SKY decoders, you will have the option to upgrade to a subscription package should you so desire (though see below). Also, both a SKY Digibox and Freesat receiver come complete with an electronic program guide so you can see what's on over the coming week.

For those who bring theirs from the UK, once you have installed a new, bigger, dish to receive the signal from the Astra 2 satellite (the SKY mini-dish is not recommended across most of France, although it will work, as the satellite signals get weaker the further south of the UK you live), you will receive exactly the same channels as in the UK, save for the fact that your telephone line will no longer be connected if you have a SKY digibox. This will place restrictions on ordering events via SKY Box Office and other interactive services. However, it does not mean that 'pay per view' events cannot be seen, as a phone call to SKY may suffice - though there are dangers in calling from overseas.

Technically, the small print in your SKY contract will state that you are not allowed to take the viewing card outside of the UK and Channel Islands. In reality though, SKY cannot fail to be aware of the fact that many people are taking their digiboxes, viewing cards and therefore continued monthly subscription, abroad.

How do I get it?

If you don't already have your own equipment, perhaps the best way to obtain your equipment is to purchase it from a specialist company in France. The benefit to the customer is of course that the equipment will (or at least it should!) come with a full guarantee and should you so wish, can be professionally installed.

Many ex-pats living in France prefer to purchase equipment from companies like ourselves to avoid any language issues whether it be for the actual purchase or just the instruction booklet! Alternatively, receivers sold by Amazon UK can be delivered to your door in France and is highly recommended. You can also purchase Freesat receivers on Amazon.

SKY viewing cards (which give you access to many more channels and premium services such as SKY Sports and SKY Movies) are ONLY genuinely available from SKY. However, there are a number of companies which can help arrange a genuine package for you - please feel free to contact us for further information, although please note that we do not supply subscription cards or SKY digiboxes ourselves.


There are many people who wish to carry out the installation of their equipment themselves and perhaps bring it from the UK, or purchase the required pieces here in France. However, many people do not, and will therefore require the services of a professional installer. There are many companies offering such services across France (including ourselves!) who will happily discuss your requirements and then carry out the work for you whether it be supplying and installing a complete system, or simply helping you to align your dish.

Installation is possible for those of a DIY nature. The dish will usually be mounted on either a wall bracket, or on a chimney bracket. In its most basic form, one cable will then run from the LNB on the dish to the digibox. Aim the dish at the Astra2 satellite which can be found at about 28 degrees east of due south, angle the dish back a little (c.30 degrees) and with a little fiddling you should obtain a reception (this is a very simplified version of what can be a difficult process!). You will see from the direction in which the satellite dish has to point that a south facing wall is a good place to locate the dish if at all possible. It is also far easier than installing on a chimney!

Please note that when aligning the dish, you must have a 'clear line of sight'. This means you cannot point the dish through a tree and expect it to receive a signal. So, unlike a terrestrial areial, your satellite dish cannot go in a loft.

As a word of warning, if you employ the services of someone else to fit your system, then only use the services of an installer who is registered in France with a Siret number. This ensures they are working legally and just as importantly, are insured. If using a French installer for UK TV, be sure to explain that they are looking for the Astra2 satellite at 28.2 degrees and not Astra 1 (19.2 degrees) which distributes many popular French channels.

Will My SKY+ Work?

Yes. As long as you have a valid subscription for it and have installed a dish with a twin output LNB (for the 2 cables) then you'll be able to record one channel whilst watching another (or record 2 different channels at the same time). The same is true of the subscription free Freesat+ service.

Can I connect my Smart TV to the Internet?

Yes, but to watch the likes of BBC iPlayer etc then you will need to have/set up a UK IP address. There are services on the internet offer such a thing but we offer no advice on the best way to do this however.

What About French TV?

The main digital non-subscription service is called TNTSAT and enables you to receive around 20 French channels along with radio. Other European language TV is also available via this service. You can have the same French channels via a terrestrial aerial if you are in a good reception area, but this is not our field so is not covered here.

The TNTSAT service is available using the Astra1 (19.2° east of south) satellite or Eutelsat (5° west of south) where it comes under the name Fransat. The Fransat service is good for those who have purchased a house with a dish already aligned for the now defunct analogue French TV service as it works off the same satellite meaning in theory, you simply need to purchase a Fransat satellite receiver and will not need a dish re-alignment. Other subscription services such as Canal+ (think SKY, but the French equivalent) are also available. Companies such as Orange or SFR also offer French TV services as part of their telephone and internet packages.

Other Info

Please be assured that your UK purchased TV will work fine with satellite TV in France and should even be compatible with the TNT terrestrial service if it has a built-in 'freeview' tuner.

However, Freeview is not the same as Freesat. For UK TV reception, a Freeview tuner is no good here in France. The suite of channels is also different. A French purchased TV will also be fine for the reception of UK TV via satellite. The old issue of SECAM/PAL standards no longer apply.

More Info

Please feel free to visit for further information or email [email protected]

© Stuart Wallace @ The French House Satellite TV


What do you think?

Join Our Newsletter - Today