Multi-satellite, part 4

(30th June 2008)


Changing channels

If you have read this far and you have a Sky Digibox, give up.

For the rest of us, every good digital receiver will support DiSEqC. We don't need to worry about the level of support as a basic switching unit is likely to work to the simplest version of the protocol - DiSEqC 1.0.

Once you have told your receiver which satellite is which, like this (fifth option down, "DiSEqC switch"):

28.2, satellite one. 19.2, satellite two.

...then tuning into a channel is as simple as selecting it! Here, take a look at my 'favourites' list:

Multi-satellite favourites.

I have highlighted Andalucía TV for a reason - it and all below are on the 19.2°E satellite, while the entries above are on the 28.2°E satellite. Simply choosing the channel will also send commands to select the correct satellite. It isn't any slower, and it is quicker to change channels than my old Digibox!
[and if you are wondering about "PopGirl", it used to be the same feed as "AnimeCentral", that's why it was on the faves list; and if I was going to delete anything, it'd probably "CITV" which I have watched exactly never!]

Honestly, it is that simple. Just select a channel and the receiver moves the entire sky so the correct satellite is pointing at your dish, all in a fraction of a second! ☺


Channels available

There is no tuning information. The best way to find channels is to simply get your receiver to auto-scan for them. It is quicker to delete the teleshopping and wannabe-porn than to add each channel by hand.
Auto-scan for channels.

There is the usual selection of German channels. It is a growing selection, as more of the analogue channels close (moving to digital-only), it is making more space available for digital transmissions.
The French Canal+ uses 19.2°E as well. Because they recently took over rival operator TPS, all of the old TPS services (which were on Hotbird) are being moved over to Astra. The benefit to us? A number of freebie French stations are popping up, from the long-time TV5 to the new NRJ Hits.
There is a reasonable compliment of Spanish stations. They also have a Canal+ subscription-based service, you'll come across this.
The Italians are still only represented by RAI1. This is probably because most of the Italian stuff is on Hotbird.

Let's look at some example channels by language... Note that there is sometimes cross-over.


English stuff

BBC World

BBC World.
This is a sort of compressed documentary-heavy version of BBC News 24. It is interesting for two reasons. Firstly, it appears to broadcast some material unique to this channel, and also it appears that part of the channel remit is that it is the international voice of the BBC; hence it cannot be received on the Sky platform - British people are not supposed to watch it, they get all the other BBC channels.
That thing over Kirsty Wark's head is the pause indicator. I wanted that scene, but had to wait for my slow computer to catch up!
In English; basic schedules and news headlines on teletext.


Whether you think Maria Bartiromo (pictured) is hot, or if you just like to unwind with some random chat with Jay Leno and Conan O'Brien, one thing is for certain... this free to air channel is not free on Sky.
In English; schedules and some sports information on teletext.


No picture is necessary, for CNN covers the globe. It's just a damn shame they disbanded their teletext service as it was the best and the most informative English-language teletext service put on satellite (BBC never put a complete Ceefax service on satellite so we can't count that).
In English.

Sky News

I think, like CNN, Sky News is attempting to cover the world with their breathless excitable the-world-is-ending style of journalism. Perhaps worth watching if they put somebody cute in the middle of a disaster area, to see how long it takes before she looks like she'll pass out from all the excitement... or maybe that lovely Irish weather presenter... but for a more balanced version of world events, there's the BBC. ☺
In English; basic news and sports headlines on teletext (also available at 28.2°E on the 'Cable' version of Sky News).


News in about a dozen languages. Interestingly the service on 19.2°E does not appear to carry teletext data.
Audio available in German, English, French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Russian, and there appears to be a test for a forthcoming Arabic language option.

Russia Today

News and current affairs, Russian style.
In English.

France 24

A special treat here guys. Fancy practicing your French? No need to wait for the French-language programming on the Sky version of this channel (apparently there is 3 hours of French a day... when, 3am?!?); instead you can choose the English-language version or the French-language version. The content isn't identical for obvious reasons, however you can swap around, especially during news programming, to get it in your preferred language (or from the best-looking presenter!).
By the way, the correct way to say the name of this channel is fhranz-van-kat-hruh.
In English or in French (actually different channels).

MTV Germany

Watch this and you'll see what Bubble Hits are on about with their slogan "up next, Pimp My Ride, we don't play music...". It is very sad that the progenitor of all of the music-video channels seems to have got stuck in a rut with showing a lot of mindless pseudo-reality garbage, but that's how it is. Still, I did used to watch Punkd, Jackass, The Osbournes, and Viva La Bam on this channel back in the days when there was an MTV:2 that actually did play music!
There's a lot of English-language programming with small German subtitles. You can ignore the subtitles. You can't ignore how stupid some of the programmes are; like one guy looking to date one of two girls and asks lots of questions with some nit-wit in a van saying "yeah dude, that's the truth" or "oh dude, she's lying!". Both girls look like wannabe hookers and the bloke looks like a McDonalds menu would prove to be too confusing for him. Please, spare us this crap, just pick a girl, snog, and fade to a song. Any song. In any language. I'd even listen to that Azerbaijan ESC2008 song than watch an entire episode of whatever the hell that was.
You guessed it, some programming might be watchable? But some stuff is awful. Might be to your taste though? Who knows, I guess somebody watches it...?
Usually in German, some programmes in English. Schedules on teletext (p300).


You must tune into this to experience The joy of Rob Ross (actually "The Joy Of Painting"). A very soft-spoken man begins with a blank canvas and he guides you through a real-time creation of a masterpiece. If you are at all artistic (I'm not very...) then you will learn loads, and also be quite shocked at the masterpieces turned out by the end of the programme. He can be a little bit tricky and playful, what with dragging his brush down and saying something like "it goes down here a little, but it doesn't know where"; and then he does a kind of bang-flick with the brush (he likes doing that, but remember he is using oils); and like a dozen brush-strokes later he has a field surrounded by a forest with a gushing river and half a crimson sunset and you're like "how the hell...???".
Yes, this one has to be seen to be believed.
Mostly in German, Rob Ross was in English...! Info on teletext.


German stuff

Lokal (etc etc etc...)

If you speak German, you'll have plenty to watch. There are many German channels, regional channels, and suchlike.
I don't know what she is saying, but I figure it is something about the rising cost of milk.
In German, some have teletext service.


This is the music channel that plays music. Included for a picture of Jeanette Biedermann singing with Ronan Keating.
The words are because the "Viva Spezial" is kareoke hour.
In German; schedules (etc) on teletext.


This channel used to have both German and English audio, but sadly now it appears to only have German audio. Never mind, you can see a number of sporting events. This channel is not free-to-air on Sky.
In German; English schedules on teletext p600.


Many. ARD1 (Das Erste), NDR regions, MDR, and dozens more.


French channels

TV5 Monde (FBS)/ TV5 Monde Europe

France2 on TV5.
TV5 appears to carry a selection of programming from other channels, such as a documentary from France5, plus the Journal Télévisé from the Swiss channel TSR.
Here is something from France3. It is one of the most popular quiz programmes, "Questions Pour Un Champion". I'm really hoping you don't need a translation of that title!
France3 on TV5.

This day's contest was between groups of students, some of whom were dressed in their uniforms. The one jumping in the picture below (Roxanne) had just passed into the next stage of the contest. Look at the girl sitting lower right. What's that, a sword!? Shades of "If...", anyone?
France3 on TV5.

Perhaps the most bizarre thing I've ever watched on TV5 is a subtitled sitcom from Canada. It would appear that Canadians might speak French like I speak French (i.e. an English-like syntax?), and they use a number of words unknown in French-French, hence subtitles were essential!

The channel TV5 Monde is also the "FBS" version (France/Belgium/Switzerland) because TV5 Monde Europe frequently carries different programming.
The TV5 Monde Europe programme guide is on p302/303/304, which the TV5 Monde ("FBS") programme guide is on p315/316/317. Highlights of the week (for both TV5s) are on p340.
In French; with a teletext service.

NRJ Hits - sold out to Canal+, now crypted... :-(

NRJ Hits.
Music, the French way. That shown above, part of the "French Music Only" programme, is a bizarre song by an Asian-looking girl called "Little", the title of which is "Je Veux Les Violons". I bet a trainee psychologist would get some mileage out of the video that accompanies the song!
While we're at it, if they are going to have a section for French songs, shouldn't it be titled in French? It's just a bit odd to me to say "French music only" and have a title in English! Oh, and in case you didn't guess, the French would say NRJ the same as energy, it's a play with words.
Sadly absorbed into the Canal+ empire... I am not aware of an FTA French music channel.

NRJ Paris

NRJ Paris.
I'm not entirely certain what this channel is? It appears to be a 'general' channel aimed at Parisian 'ados', but with no EPG details and no teletext, all I can really say is it broadcasts concerts, news, and a sort of chat/discussion show.
In French.


La Chaîne Parliamentaire (LCP), Demain, arte (in French and German), and more.


Spanish channels


The main Spanish television channel, in its international version.
In Spanish, with teletext.


The Basque language channel euskadi telebiste. They're big on some version of handball.
In Basque and Spanish.


tv Canaria (for the Canary Islands), tv Galicia, tv Extremadura, Andalucía TV and various other regions; in Spanish.



Most of these are 'new' to Astra since I last looked about a year ago.


TRT with teletext overlay.
TRT? An address in Ankara on the teletext menu page? This must be turkish?
I guess if I wish to expand my WinTTX software to include support for Turkish then I have a ready source of data!

TV Polonia

TV Polonia.
Polish television. I'm not quite sure why it is subtitled in English? The blurring of the obscenity was me, not the broadcast.


There are other a few other Polish channels, TV Budapest (Romania?), and the token Italian channel RAI Uno.


The summary

While a rough knowledge of another language is best to benefit from this extension to your viewing (in order of preference by station count: German, Spanish, French...); there are some things in English and there are also some things nice to look at even if you don't have a clue what is being said. Some of the scenery in the Basque lands (shown on etb) is breathtaking, I ought to go there on holiday sometime...

All in all, it isn't bad for a second LNB (you can sometimes get these as cheap as £3 from Lidl), a little DiSEqC switch box, and two short lengths of satellite cable with F-plugs at each end.
Oh, and you'll need a compatible receiver, but if you're using anything other than a Sky Digibox, chances are it'll do DiSEqC...

All in all, it isn't bad for an outlay of around £25(ish) and a little amount of ingenuity.

If nothing else, watch NRJ Hits to pick up on some current music French style (seems to be delightfully quirky), and Viva for current music German style (thankfully no Hasselhoff hits (!), but every winter you'll be treated to lots of Wham's "Last Christmas"). You might be surprised.
If you get really bored, you can always have the fun of picking a well-known TV programme (such as Friends) and watch it in another language. See if you can guess what is going to happen next. Or those spectaculars that the Germans put on, which is like a cross between a posh dinner do and a barn party - I'm not entirely sure why this stuff is televised, but somewhere along the way some really cute young child will sing something and as she sings a bunch of people (including men who really should know better) will start bawling their eyes out. It's all rather comical, and infinitely better than the vulgar onslaught of "Big Bother" being thrown at us from Channel 4.
Oh, and I realise that's a typo, but it's a rather apt one so I'll write this sentence to let you know that I know and that you can know that I am keeping it that way. So now you know what I know and, oh hell, I knew I shouldn't have eaten that entire tub of Carte d'Or rum&raisin ice cream because the sugar will start playing with my mind. But, hey, it was so worth it. Everybody's got their little perks. Mom likes cola chupa-chups, I like good ice cream (not the cheap crap, gives me a funny tummy).

Well, that's it. No page five. Thanks for reading!


PS: You might like to check out the radio stations too. I listen to "Alouette" on my little FM radio. It's nice to have the option of receiving it via satellite because I find my computer equipment interferes with reception...


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Copyright © 2008 Richard Murray