THERE was TV chaos in Tenerife yesterday (Thursday) as thousands of residents discovered they had lost their BBC service.
The outdated Astra 2A satellite service (pictured) was switched to the Astra 2E, a new satellite service which transmits two beams.
The first is the UK Spot beam (pictured). This service covers the UK and is designed to give a powerful signal to the target audience.
The free-to-air terrestrial channels have been moved to this service, including all the BBC channels. It is understood that the ITV channels along with the Channel 4 and Channel 5 service will also be switched to this beam in the next few days.
The second service, called the Pan European beam (pictured), has a much broader coverage range and brings some joy to us here in Tenerife.
While this service will not carry the free-to-air channels, it will broadcast a host of popular stations and new channels.
These include all the movie channels, National Geographic, Comedy Central, Sky News, Sky Sports F1 and Sky Sports 1, 2 and 3. All these channels will be available on a standard dish in standard definition.
As we go to press, the full picture on what will and will not be available is still a little cloudy. Our source told us that it will take a few days, or even a couple of weeks, before everything is sorted out.
What is clear is that the BBC channels will not be available to most current satellite viewers.
But there is still hope. Some three-metre dishes have been able to pick up the BBC although, from reports we have received, this has been something of a lottery.
It seems that it all comes down to the quality of the dish. One expert told us: “Some dishes will work and pick up BBC; some will not. In short, it will come down to the quality of the dish. The better the fabrication, the better the chance of getting it.
“Also, older dishes will not work for this. For example, the ‘Channel Master’ Dish’.
“But there are some dishes which seem to be getting the job done, notably the Polish manufactured dishes.”
For many the news is grim, but it’s far worse for those on mainland Spain because they will receive no BBC whatsoever, regardless of their dish size.
Yesterday’s changes will see individual expats and complexes moving into the “next generation” of satellite-viewing here.
Many communities will need to upgrade their equipment or purchase a new dish in order to view BBC from the skies.
Of course, there is a multitude of other ways to watch the UK terrestrial channels – and plenty of companies have various options, including online streaming.
The return to “our” satellite screens of some Sky favourites is a welcome boost. It has been a while since the likes of Comedy Channel and Sky News have been available outside of HD.
Sports fans will be delighted to see most of the Sky Sports channels, and we understand that more “lifestyle” channels will pop up over the next few weeks.
That said, while the ITV, C4 and Five services were available at time of writing, these will be gone in the next fortnight as “our” skies go UK-terrestrial free.