If you are moving to France or currently living here, you will probably still want to keep up with your favorite programmes and films, and you may find that it is easier to keep up with the news in your own language.
You can watch all your usual channels freeview or subscription. These are available all over FranceTo receive UK TV in France you can opt for a satellite receiver and dish, or if you have high-speed broadband you can choose to view your programs via the internet. .
UK TV in France via satellite
To keep all your options open, a large number of viewers prefer to use a Sky Digibox. Newer models are obviously faster than older ones and tend to be more reliable with regard to signal strength and quality. The box also includes a 7-day programing guide that is worth having. Note that the A Sky+ and Sky HD will require a twin or quad LNB as these boxes require two cables from the dish to the Digi box to allow the box to record two different things at once. You can also pause live TV (and skip commercials).
Free-to-air (FTA) UK channels can also be received with any decent non-Sky digital satellite receiver, regardless of whether it is bought in France or the UK. These include all the BBC radio and TV channels, ITV and several news channels like CNN, Sky News and Euronews.
A Sky Digibox on its own will work, but to get the full benefit a viewer will need a Sky Viewing Card by paid subscription to view all pay channels or a card that only decodes FTA channels.
– ones that carry a monthly fee and which provide access to pay channels – subscription cards
– ones that only decode the FTA channels mentioned above.
Sky will only send cards to UK addresses and is not supposed to knowingly supply service to those outside the UK (or the Republic of Ireland) for broadcasting rights restrictions. New cards (subscription or FTA) need to be activated and this can only be done once the box has been set up with a dish and is working properly (see below). It also has to be done in the box which is going to be used for reception: so you can’t activate a card in someone else’s box and expect it to always work correctly in yours.
Once you have your box and card you will have to think about a dish. This will need to be carefully installed with a clear line of sight facing the southeast. If you live at the bottom of a cliff or behind very tall trees then you may have some trouble. You will need to contact a reputable antenna installer in France and explain that you want to receive Astra 2 at 28° East. As it is a French company and not an English person he may get confused with Astra 1 at 19° East which is a common satellite for French transmissions. You do not want this satellite. (As these satellites are over the equator all positions are always given in degrees from the Greenwich meridian at the equator, and not from magnetic north as you might otherwise think).
Most of the big French Hypermarkets and DIY stores have a SAV (Service Après Vente) department that handles antenna installations and they will usually do a good job for a reasonable package price for the dish, cable and other parts. There are also a lot of local companies who can offer a good knowledge of your area and give you their expertise for a similar price.
In most parts of France a 60-cm dish will be adequate. If you have a UK dish this will be known as a Zone 2 dish which is a 60-63 cm dish.
See the instruction manual supplied with your Digibox for equipment connection details. Basically you should use Scart leads (one is supplied with the box) for the connections between the Digibox and TV. Your UK TV will work perfectly well with a Sky Digibox as will any TV bought in France as long as you use Scart (Péritel in French) leads for the connections. If you intend using the TV away from the Digibox (in a distant bedroom for example) with a coaxial cable connection then you just need to be sure that the TV supports PAL “I”. All UK TVs do, as do some French TVs.
A TV licence system exists in France and anyone with any sort of TV is supposed to pay the licence fee, regardless of whether they watch French TV or not. If you a buy a new television in France, the manufacturer has to ask you to complete a form which is sent off to the equivalent of the TV licensing authority. The amount is then automatically taken from you at the end of the tax year.
UK TV via Internet
There is an increasing variety of offers available to watch TV via the internet, such as Netflix or BBC iPlayer. Sometimes the content is only available in the country it is licensed for, and therefore a viewer is not able to access it from France.
User get around this by using a Virtual Private Network service – basically this means that the IP address –the number that defines the computers ‘identity’ online – is changed to reflect an access code pertaining to the desired geographical area. With a fast internet connection these services will play in high quality with rarely any buffering. Content providers, however, are wary of the practice and constantly trying new methods to block these rounabout ways of getting around the geographical restrictions.
Useful French words and terms
Satellite dish: une parabole
Satellite dish installer/engineer: un technicien
Arm style wall fixing to hold dish: un bras coudé pour parabole
SCART lead: un câble péritel
SCART socket: une prise péritel
Last updated in August 2015