Required: a Dummies Guide to Accessing UK TV in France

Evening all.
I know this question has various replies here, and I have spent hours and hours - probably totalling days - online, but since I am not in any way a tech savvy person, I find the terms and advice confusing to say the least.

We would like to be able to view UK tv here in the Gers easily and hassle-free when we wish. We don’t mind paying for whatever is required within reason, but it must be reasonably simple to set up.

I have successfully installed Kodi onto my laptop, have a Fire Stick that my son brought from USA with Kodi on it too, and recently tried Unlocator for a week on the laptop only. We don’t yet have a smart TV but will be buying one in the next few weeks. We also inherited a sat dish when we bought this house though I’m not exactly sure what benefit it has. We have french channels via aerial and an Orange internet subscription which is reasonably quick I believe.

We have never really watched a lot of tv or done box sets, soaps, US drama stuff - it would mainly be rugby and news with the odd film or crime/drama series thrown in. I also noticed that there is a TNT changeover on October 3rd so we will perhaps need to re-tune.

Any advice greatly appreciated, and please be gentle with me! I know it’s an-oft posed question but I struggle with the tech terms, in spite of a lot of reading of forums and reviews of equipment and ‘stuff’.

Merci d’avance! :blush:

As you already have a dish then get yourself a FreeSAT HD receiver from a UK source - this provides you most of the channels available in the UK via terrestrial FreeVIEW plus a whole host more. If you wish to be able to record stuff (by which I include pausing & rewinding live TV) then push the boat out & spend about £180 on a FreeSAT+ box (there is no ongoing cost with FreeSAT, unlike Sky).

Your dish may need realigning to 28.2° east, where the cluster of satellites that broadcast FreeSAT are positioned. Depending on it’s size it may struggle with those broadcasts if you are too far south i.e. it might need to be bigger.

If you plan to use FreeSAT+ your dish will require to have at least a two output LNB fitted - that is the bit on the end of the dish arm that receives the signal focused on to it by the dish. This means you can have two indentical signals to the two tuners inside the FreeSAT+ box, which means you can watch one thin whilst recording another, or record two things at once. This also means a second cable needs to be fed down from the dish.

I’m sure that if the above is outside your skillset then it shouldn’t be hard to find a competant local business that can help you.

IMO if you have an aerial for French TV then use it directly to you TV rather than using Orange’s tedious TV interface (this assumes your TV already has a built in HD tuner, as all French terrestrial broadcass are now in HD).

Once you have a Smart TV you can enjoy things like Netflix (or use an external box such as Apple TV).

1 Like

For the Gars you will probably need a 1 - 1.2m dish, roughly speaking.

If, as you said, you have a good internet connection then there are quite a lot of IPTV offerings such as FilmOn which offer UK channels.

Do you have a “smart” TV, if so was it bought in France or the UK?

Thanks so much for all that info B! Much appreciated. This gives me a few things to consider - although I think I’ll need a new dish, as it’s barely big enough for my bacon and eggs :fried_egg:! Since it’s a nice rainy day here ATM I am reading up on lots of techy stuff in the hope of having rugby by next weekend!

Freesat is a good option
Bought our equipment from… Very helpful plus quick delivery and prices quite correct.
We have a 1.3m dish with 2 LNB’s. We live near Aix-en-Provence and the signal is quite good (a few glitches or blackouts on some channels from time to time but 98% fine) We had to get the dish fine tuned and aligned by a specialist though> I had it almost right on my own but without the specialist “magic box” its very difficult.
Freesat, once you have the equipment and its installed is totally FREE - no monthly subscriptions. Suggest buying the freesat decoder with hard disk, a bit more expensive but you can record on it. We have 2 LNBs as we wanted UK telly in 2 separate rooms so also have 2 decoders. No SKY package included but quite a lot of sport on BBC / ITV plus a dedicated sports channel is coming as from next week
Hope this helps

1 Like

Hello Paul, thanks for the info - I think I will need a new dish, so that’s my job for the next few days! I’ve also seen BIS online somewhere so will look into that also. I had hoped to use my fire stick with a VPN (or as I liked to call it VPL !) or DNS but I just haven’t graduated to that level of tech just yet.

We are going to purchase a smart tv here (in France) this week I think also, possibly online or at Conforama so that will certainly give my project some impetus. I miss having the rugby on of a weekend and can’t seem to find even french rugby on tv here!

Thanks again!

Thanks Phillip! It is very useful info indeed. I have spotted a trend here and I think Freesat is the way to go.

My job now is to get it all organised!

Thanks again, and have a lovely day. :slight_smile:

I hope you don’t mind me also posing a question here as there seem to be some knowledgable people replying.
We recently moved near Limoux and would like to receive both English tv plus sports channels like sky. We brought our Smart tv with us. We have been told that the service by a dish is unreliable and should use an internet system.
We are not at all technical and would require someone to install.
Any suggestions would be appreciated and better still a company we could contact to provide installation.
Hoping someone can help

Hi there
I prefer the dish solution - it means you are free of internet providers and associated problems. It is reliable but you need a big one (our dish is 1.3m dia). Best is to find a pro shop in your area and talk to them.
As posted above is very helpful and will advise on size of dish for your area. If possible I would always go for one dish size larger to ensure good reception. Sky is not included on Freesat (otherwise it wouldn’t be free…) so you would need advice on that which uk-satellite can give you. You can order all your equipment through uk (much cheaper) and get a local pro-shop to install and align the dish.

Hi there I have a question too!!! I apologise for jumping in on the feed in advance! I don’t have a dish and am in Blois, not sure if location matters, I am looking at getting a VPN. Has anyone had experience with this? There are so many providers. Also are viruses a problem? I love my Macbook pro and would prefer not to break it for TV!!!

No experience with commercial VPN’s I’m afraid - I do access iPlayer etc via a VPN but one I set up myself which runs back to my internet connection at home.

The slight problem with VPNs is that, depending on the exact set-up, you might be running all of your internet traffic through the VPN provider which means that they can see anything which is not encrypted. Thus you do need to be able to trust them and if it is a “free” service remember that someone, somewhere is paying and that might be you, in ways that you do not expect.

The other problem is that the BBC do try to block the VPN providers. It’s a bit of a game of whack-a-mole for them but there is always the risk that any particular service might suddenly stop working.

Thank you for the advice! Much appreciated

1 Like

Hi Daisy, if you are intending to use your smart tv to access Iplayer and UK catchup, you need to buy it in the UK, as the French ones usually have these featues blocked as they are geo restricted, even if used with a VPN or smart DNS service.
Unlocator seems to work as a DNS and I am aware that you can get bbc, itv, 4, 5 and Amazon Prime TV through it.
We have a smart TV with a twin satellite receiver built in, this should be able to access Freesat TV and record it without the need for an extra box.
You can also connect a smarttv to a router via wifi, or LAN and access the uk catchup as long as you have a way of getting round geo blocking.
I tried a commercial VPN service and BBC Iplayer blocked it and does most of these services.
Hope this helps a little.

We have a magic box that plugs in to the tv and internet box (no dishes, no laptop) gets all sky, and not expensive, pm me for details.

I’ll add another recommendation for the satellite dish pointed at the UK Astra satellite solution.

Installed the dish ourselves, was not complicated. Works fine in the Charente, the further South you go the bigger the dish you’ll need. We receive French TV via a normal terrestrial aerial.

Worth knowing LNBs (the bit the cable plugs into on the dish) are not restricted to 2 outputs. Ours has 6. We have 2 cables to the living room freesat decoder/recorder, 1 to the main bedroom, another to the main guest room, yet another to the kitchen so my wife can listen to the Archers on Sunday and the final one to the guest cottage.) Think you can get LNBs with 8 or more outputs if you can use them.

When we come across for two or three months we bring our UK sky box and plug that in instead of the freesat decode in the living room. Works absolutely fine. But Sky won’t tell you that and you cannot subscribe to Sky from an address outside the UK.

I use Ace tv they have a website and a Facebook page - they are iptv providers and very stable - price is £10 a month or £70 a year - will work on firestick and on android box or on pvr simple on Kodi but simplest way is using Simple iptv app on a Samsung or LG smart Tv. The price includes 7 day catch up on major channels and video on demand with movies and box sets - gets all uk channels including all sky and by and. USA and Canadian as well

We have a Manhattan satellite box which is very good - records up to 36 hours as well - but we loose most UK channels in the summer. Location is 20 kms north of the Pyrenees near Pau so a bit south for very good reception. Installed a 1.2m dish but I think a larger one would be better but it would have to be installed on the ground which is a bit difficult. Local French installer set it up. We have a very low internet speed so live streaming is a bit hit and miss. VPN we use is Myexpatnet - 4.75€ a month - which means we can get all UK channels over the internet when the satellite signal goes and to download from the BBC. French tv via Orange Livebox from and inside aerial.

Hi Sheila can you tell me more about your magic box ? We have a home in lot et Garonne and would like to access British TV .
Many thanks

I’m always intrigued by these ‘magic boxes’. Quite simply, are they legal? If not there seems to be a lot of otherwise law abiding people who are prepared to risk a lot for the convenience of UK TV. As I understand it the EU has recently extended the maximum prison sentence for illegally accessing copyright material from the internet from two years to ten.
Is there anybody out there who knows the facts?

Hello Morag, our box plugs in to the tv and into a modem- no dishes etc. It is a MAG250 which you will see on ebay,but these boxes are not loaded and it is not cheap to have loaded. Ours came with all the sky programmes plus films, series and two weeks catch-up. We bought ours for €160 in Cyprus but it works perfectly here and we pay €240 annually. We do have an occasional short lived blip but 99% of the time it is fine. If you would like our suppliers email I will forward it.We have known the supplier for about 9 years and he is trustworthy and honest. Hope this helpsSheila

Morag White
September 11 |

Hi Sheila can you tell me more about your magic box ? We have a home in lot et Garonne and would like to access British TV .
Many thanks
Morag Visit Topic or reply to this email to respond.
In Reply To

sheil Sheila Swallow
September 10 |

We have a magic box that plugs in to the tv and internet box (no dishes, no laptop) gets all sky, and not expensive, pm me for details. Visit Topic or reply to this email to respond. To unsubscribe from these emails, click here.