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American Women's Club of Hamburg

Free English Television!

Have you had enough of Traumschiff and Maischberger but cannot imagine paying hundreds of euros a year for BSkyB channels to get the latest in American television? If you just want some very interesting and entertaining television programs in English, you can enjoy “free to air.” All you need to do is buy the correct satellite dish, LNBs, satellite receiver and digital television. Once everything is installed, no more fees (except of course the German public television fees that anyone who has a TV or radio has to pay every year).

Television channels from Great Britain come from satellites Astra and Hotbird and include, but are not limited to, BBC One through Four, BBC HD, CBBC, ITV 1 through 4 and other channels that have programs from England, Scotland and Wales. Take a look at www.itv.com and click on the TV Guide to see the variety of programs that are available on the channels just listed. Some of the other channels on the guide are available only by paying for them either per channel (like BBC Prime) or with a package deal (BSkyB owns Turner Movies for example). There are plenty of free news stations such as CNN International, BBC World News, CNBC, Al Jazeera and Press TV. But if you want Fox News, you have to pay for the Rupert Murdoch stations. All satellites have made the change to digital so all equipment needs to be for digital transmission and preferably for HD (High Definition).

European countries traditionally offered free-to-air telivision and early analogue transmissions were free until the BSkyB conglomerate managed to control the satellite waves for a price and shut down free BBC transmissions. Finally a settlement of sorts was reached between BSkyB and the BBC and now there are many free-to-air channels although broadcast rights still raise lots of complicated issues. Germany, in particular, receives in excess of 100 digital TV channels free-to-air (including German channels). Approximately half of the television channels on Astra’s 19.2° east and 28.5° east (Eurobird) satellite positions, and Eutelsat’s Hot Bird (13°E) are free-to-air. Transmissions include movie channels like one that shows old westerns (Movies4Men – no, it doesn’t mean porn!), a channel of American made-for-TV true stories (True Movies) and a variety of old films on three different channels called Zone. National Public Radio and lots of other great radio stations are also available. All channels transmitted can be found on the tedious, but absolutely everything you need to know about satellite stations, website called King of Sat at http://en.kingofsat.net/. You can narrow your searches by free registration. Fill in our location 10.1E and 53.3N, size of satellite
dish (we have 100cm) and then pick the satellites listed above and the limit of “free-to-air” to find out what you can see without a fee.

originally published in Currents Jan/Feb 2010

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