I’m conscious that there is currently some speculation about the timing of forthcoming moves of BBC services between satellites and the reason for these changes. So I thought you would appreciate it if I set the record straight. The quick answer is that, as a result of SES’s fleet replacement programme, BBC services will move in the second half of 2013.

Regular readers will recall that in February 2012, SES retired Astra 2D and BBC services moved to a new temporary home on Astra 1N. Astra 1N is due to take up its permanent position in 2013 (19°East), so the BBC’s services will move to their new permanent home on Astra 2E (28.2°East) when that becomes operational. SES expects Astra 2E to launch in Q2 2013, so we currently expect to transition BBC services to it during summer 2013.

Some of you have also noticed that we commissioned a new transponder (which we call DSat8) in the autumn. It moved from its temporary home on Astra 1N to its permanent position on Astra 2F at the end of November 2012. DSat8 is still in a testing phase but in the coming months it will be used to broadcast BBC One Scotland HD and BBC One Wales HD as we complete the programme of providing all Nations programming in glorious HD. We’ll be publishing the details of DSat8 on our satellite reception advice page when the services launch.

I hope that clarifies the timings of moves and also that the moves relate to the SES fleet replacement programme, rather than any BBC strategy to change its footprint. That said, the new transponders do have a slightly different footprint, so I’ll explain a bit about that, and why the changes are no cause for concern for the BBC in our requirement to ensure that the BBC’s domestic services are readily accessible to people living in the UK.

What impact will all this have for the viewer?

In all likelihood the move of BBC services from 1N to their new permanent homes will have no impact on UK households.  Astra 2E and 2F have the same, tighter but slightly more powerful UK spot beams which means that UK households should get a slightly stronger signal.  So if you happened to be on the edge of coverage, you will hopefully get more reliable reception.

The overspill of the BBC’s services will be reduced so viewers outside the UK will find it even harder to receive them. I know that this causes unhappiness to some of you living outside the UK. However, it is entirely appropriate because the BBC domestic services are for people living in the UK only.

For viewers outside the UK, BBC Worldwide offers a number of channels which are available in various territories.  These include BBC Entertainment, BBC Knowledge, BBC Lifestyle, CBeebies along with BBC World News throughout Europe and the rest of the world.

I hope the detail above helps you to understand a bit more about the changes coming in the second half of 2013 and the reason for them. Finally, thank you to SES for the lovely pictures of Astra 2F.


Alix Pryde is Director, BBC Distribution


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  • Comment number 67. Posted by Steven0161

    on 30 Dec 2012 21:46

    @Alix Pryde Thanks for the taking the time to reply to the many comments. I am British citizen living in the UK and very pleased that the BBC are finally getting its act together regarding its satellite distribution.

    I have visited a fair few countries in Europe and some beyond the EU and found it really annoying that as a licence payer, people outside the UK were getting a free ride for both BBC TV and Radio. Equally annoying most british bars were advertising "BBC TV" as a way to entice customer in.

    I'm sure for the determined where's there's a will there's a way....But it will be a bit harder and for me thats a good result!

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  • Comment number 66. Posted by paul_geaton

    on 29 Dec 2012 23:30

    Thanks for the Xmas greeting Alix, Happy New Year to you. I'm sure that hPM6HO speaks for many in his response to your comment.

    Just my thoughts, if a potential viewer is a British passport holder and a licence fee payer who happens, currently, to be located overseas (e.g. studying, on an armed-forces posting, on holiday or even in retirement) then I can't understand why the BBC would choose actively to exclude that viewer from the full range of its services, when granting access could come at no additional cost.

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  • Comment number 65. Posted by GOM2

    on 28 Dec 2012 19:23

    It is good to see Alix Pride has attempted to answer the concerns of ex pats abroad however my previous comment was as one of many thousands of caravanners/ motorhomers and indeed Many uk citizen most of us retired who spend up to six months abroad also in hotels and chalets. All of the people I have spoken to do not claim for "unused quarters" of their tv licence or cancel their licence when abroad.however if the situation arises whereupon they cannot receive uk tv I am sure they will seek to reclaim the money which will be rightfully theirs.
    To this end and in anticipation of this situation I have been wading through the plethora of questions and answers on the tv licence licence web page and there does not appear to be a simple way of claiming back. I will perservere but what I have found disturbing when trawling through websites devoted to this issue is the amount of reports of bullying and intimidation by the "TV Licence police"directed at those that have sought to cancel their TV licence for genuine reasons.So I do not expect it will be easy.
    In regard to the so called agreement with the government regarding broadcasting outwith the UK I find it very difficult to believe this is binding. What about the situation at the moment with the 1N satellite which is easy to receive at present even in Southern Spain and even before that we could get a signal, so have the BBC been breaking this agreement for years as their satellite footprint is far wider than the footprint map suggests and I am sure they must be aware of this indeed even after the change those even in southern Spain will still be able to receive BBC albeit with a much larger sat dish. So how will that affect the "agreement"?
    So is this so called agreement just a smokescreen? and is there an ulterior motive? perhaps trying to sell the useless to us BBCi player worldwide service? I wonder.

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  • Comment number 64. Posted by rami

    on 27 Dec 2012 08:52

    to bbc , please please hou go watch bbc itv ..ect in europe

    french,spanish,german .........not

    is only for your british citizen ,expat you shud by proad and happy your britishs citizens want watch them uk tv abraod

    sorry for my english,

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  • Comment number 63. Posted by rami

    on 27 Dec 2012 08:43

    ok, this is only one, of lots off compagnys sale uktv via iptv in europe.
    can you give any answer for this comercial uktv if they have commercial deal with bbc


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  • Comment number 62. Posted by hPM6HO

    on 26 Dec 2012 18:53

    Dear Mrs. Pryde,

    you reply will no doubt be much appreciated by everyone who has posted here. However I am still not convinced by the answer. Here is an excerpt from 75(2) of the BBC Agreement:

    (2) The BBC may use sums paid to it under paragraph (1) to fund any activities properly
    carried on by the BBC except—
    (a) those carried on for the purposes of the World Service, any Commercial Service, any
    service of a description mentioned in paragraph (7), or any service aimed primarily
    at users outside the UK;
    (b) any which are carried on for the purposes of a television, radio or online service
    which is wholly or partly funded by advertisements, subscription, sponsorship, payper-view system or any other alternative means of finance, unless the Secretary of
    State has given prior written approval.

    I don't see how this prohibits broadcasting services into other countries. The keyword here is "primarily". The BBC is not allowed to use license money to make programming specifically for expats abroad, but it can broadcast BBC One etc. overseas, as these programs were made *primarily* for people within the UK. And it certainly doesn't in any way require the BBC to go out of its way to stop people watching TV abroad.

    Two actions of the BBC that would seem to contradict this supposed rule:
    1) The BBC has enabled and encouraged people outside the UK to listen to the "real" BBC radio services, e.g. Radio 1, Radio 2... Correct me if I'm wrong, but aren't these also license-fee funded? Having said that, the amount of available content has dropped dramatically very recently. To me this would seem to indicate a major strategic shift within the BBC that has been completely opaque.
    2) What about the Republic of Ireland? There seems to be no concern whatsoever about people watching the BBC there, despite the fact that the resulting market distortion and political consequences are infinitely more important than a few expats on the continent watching telly.

    Also, don't forget that practically every European country also has publicly funded TV which are received and enjoyed by people across the continent (including people in the UK).
    My point is basically this: I do understand that sometime third-party content owners seek to implement regional restrictions, but I feel that too often the BBC pretends to be subject to restrictions and powerless to resist, even when e.g. the BBC clearly owns all the rights and the program is practically of zero interest to foreigners. Even if not everyone will be able to see it I think we would all appreciate a little transparency: When a program isn't available abroad, tell us which content owner objected.
    We would also like to know more about the BBC's overall international strategy. Clearly some programs aren't considered "valuable" on the international market, so why not offer them on the iPlayer? Why offer a commercial international iPlayer but not offer the UK content?
    Forgive me for saying this but every time somebody suggests BBC World News as an alternative I can hardly take them seriously. That station is disproportionately focused on regions of the former Empire and doesn't come close to meeting the needs of the majority of the UK citizens living abroad today (most of whom live and work in European countries).

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  • Comment number 61. Posted by Alix Pryde

    on 24 Dec 2012 19:14

    I’m sure that the above answers won’t make those of you unhappy with the situation any happier. But I hope it helps to explain why the BBC does the things it does in this area. We are proud of the great programmes we make and know that people outside the UK will enjoy them too, so we find ways to make them available appropriately, and in the process raise funds to support the making of more great programmes.

    And whilst the views you’ve expressed on this blog show some big disagreements among you, if I may in this season of goodwill, I take heart from the fact that the common belief that unites you is your affection for the BBC’s programmes.

    Merry Christmas

  • Comment number 60. Posted by Alix Pryde

    on 24 Dec 2012 19:11

    Q3. Could you make great BBC programmes more available to people outside the UK?
    A. The final point I’d like to elaborate on is that the BBC does make its programmes and channels available to people living outside the UK, and the way we do this is through the commercial subsidiary BBC Worldwide. Individual programmes are sold to foreign broadcasters, and specially created BBC-branded TV channels, such as BBC Entertainment, BBC Knowledge, BBC Lifestyle and CBeebies, are made available via platform operators in other countries (to find out more about how to receive them, click on the links I included in my original blog). In addition, the Global BBC iPlayer was launched in July 2011 in 16 countries covering Europe, Australia and Canada. It provides direct access to over 2000 hours of BBC programming covering 15 genres for €7.99 per month.

  • Comment number 59. Posted by Alix Pryde

    on 24 Dec 2012 19:08

    Q2. What about free movement of Goods? And is the BBC’s ownership of commercial rights a factor?
    A. Foreignman and mhepton raise the free movement of goods within the EU, and specifically the Television Without Frontiers Directive and the pub landlady case. The TVWF directive (which has now been replaced by the Audiovisual Media Services Directive) makes it easier for broadcasters to broadcast across multiple European territories by saying that if a channel is licensed by a regulator in one EU state then that is good enough for all EU states. It doesn’t guarantee the availability of all content in all Member States across every other Member State – that is instead a commercial decision for each broadcaster. It also doesn’t affect the issue of whether or not you own the rights to make the content you are broadcasting available in multiple territories. While the pub landlady case supports the principle of free movement of broadcast transmissions (and dealt with a really specific point on copyright in territorial rights agreements) it doesn’t authorise or guarantee the availability of all content in each Member State. Again, in the case of the BBC this issue is governed by the Agreement with Government.

  • Comment number 58. Posted by Alix Pryde

    on 24 Dec 2012 19:04

    Q1. Why does the BBC confine its UK Public Services to people in the UK?
    A. The most important point I’d like to clarify is that the Government prohibits the BBC from broadcasting BBC One etc. into countries other than the UK. It’s a condition under which we enjoy the privilege of licence fee funding. This is set out in clause 75(2) of the “Agreement Between Her Majesty’s Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport and the British Broadcasting Corporation” often called the “BBC Agreement” (http://downloads.bbc.co.uk/bbctrust/assets/files/pdf/about/how_we_govern/agreement.pdf). (Some of you may be aware that from 2014 the BBC will use licence fee funding to support the BBC World Service, which will be allowed by a specific exception.) So I hope that explains why I use the term “appropriate” to describe the footprint of the satellite signals focused on the UK. My further points below are secondary to this fundamental point that the BBC simply isn’t allowed to aim its licence fee funded TV channels, radio stations and websites “at users outside the UK”.

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