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Receiving English TV- A Beginner's Guide

French Television:
Broadcasting television via the analogue signal is still the singlemode of reception for 80% of French households. Digital terrestrial  television (TNT in French) will allow households to receive numerous
additional channels with enhanced picture and sound quality with someeven in HD. The law of 1st August 2000 put into place the guidelinesfor the roll-out of this new technology.

The first step in the digital switchover in France was at Coulommiers in the Seine et Marne region on the 4th February 2009 where the analogue signal was turned off. Following this a calendar was established for the digital switchover in the rest of the country.

For the Poitou-Charentes the date fixed for the switchover is October 2010 and for the Limousin in May 2011.

Therefore in order to receive television in this area you will need to be equipped with a digital receiver. Traditional cathode ray televisions can be adapted by means of a specific adaptor (Mini TNT)  which plugs into the SCART plug or by using the TV in conjunction with a separate digital receiver (récepteur TNT). Alternatively, many digital televisions now have an integrated receiver.

There are two rival digital satellite systems available in France  . . . Canal Satellite and TPS. Canal Satellite has the the main terrestrial broadcasters except TF1 and some films are often available in English. You will also find Sky News and BBC World.  TPS has all the French terrestrial broadcasters, some films in English and BBC Prime as well as BBC World. Just like Sky in the UK, these systems are subscription based and it is usual to rent the terminal (set top box) as part of the monthly subscription.

The BBC Abroad:
The BBC has two channels which are specifically aimed at countries outside the UK. These are:
BBC World, a channel dedicated to news and documentaries and available Free to Air in both analogue and digital from the HotBird satellite. Also available on both of the French satellite platforms above.
BBC Prime, drama, comedy and soaps and available as a stand alone pay channel on the HotBird satellite.

British Domestic Television:
There are two basic systems which will enable you to watch domestic British television, a Free To Air system and a Digibox system. The former FTA system will give you all eight digital channels from the BBC as well as all the BBC regional variations. ITV1 , ITV2, ITV3 and ITV4 (including all the regional variations of ITV1) are also available and there are news channels, some film channels (including Film Four), pop video channels and the inevitable shopping channels.
The digibox system will also give you all those channels but, in addition, it will also allow you to insert a Sky viewing card to extend the number of channels that you can receive. There are basically two sorts of viewing cards, one is the Sky subscription card and its associated monthly payments and the Freesat-from-Sky card which for a small one off payment of £20 will add Channel4 and Five to the list of FTA channels.
Free-to-Air receivers are available from specialised suppliers like ourselves or from French  audio-visual outlets

What equipment can we bring with us?
We are often asked if you can bring your television equipment with you when you move to France. You can certainly use your satellite digibox . . . all brands work fine in France. Your Freeview receiver, ie the one which connects to your rooftop aerial and not a satellite dish, will not receive British 'FreeView' programmes. Your UK standard television will work fine with your digibox but, unless you specifically bought a multi standard tv, will not receive French tv through a rooftop aerial. Your video recorder will still work here but will only record one channel at a time through your digibox.